Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused DRC leader Felix Tshisekedi of exploiting the ongoing insecurity in eastern Congo to postpone next year’s presidential election.
Addressing a parliamentary session after the signing in of new members of the Cabinet, President Kagame said he believes the current leadership of the Democratic Republic of Congo is creating a security emergency a year before the country holds presidential elections in order to find a reason to postpone the elections scheduled for December 2023.
“This problem can be resolved if one country headed for elections next year is not trying to create an emergency so that the elections don’t take place, not that he won the first elections as we know. If he is trying to find another way of having the next elections postponed, then I would rather he uses other excuses, not us,” Kagame said.
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Tshisekedi came to power in January 2019 and DRC will hold its next presidential election in December 2023.
President Kagame was addressing MPs on Wednesday while officiating the swearing-in of Rwanda’s new minister of Health, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, and the permanent secretary in the ministry, Ivan Butera.
In his speech that lasted for over an hour, President Kagame said Congo has focused on the M23 rebel group, even when over 400 other armed groups are operating in eastern DRC.
The M23 is among armed groups that have turned eastern DRC into one of Africa’s most violent regions.
He said that when the conflict resumed, he offered President Tshisekedi assistance to fight off some of the rebel groups including the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), which is said to be responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, but the DRC leader declined.
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Given how long the conflict has been ongoing and how attempts to solve the issue remain ineffective, President Kagame said that he believes that someone somewhere wants the issue to remain unresolved.
“It has become so convenient for a long time that all problems are put on the shoulders of Rwanda. Rwanda is always the culprit, not FDLR. The government of DRC should be responsible for its people, not the UN, not the powerful countries like the US, UK, and France. Why does it always come back to Rwanda,” Kagame said.
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He added that “the blame that Rwanda carries for DRC issues should be carried by Congo and those who want to alleviate DRC’s responsibilities”.
Military clashes between rebel groups in the eastern DRC have forced thousands out of their homes. By Monday, a ceasefire between government troops and M23 rebels appeared to hold for a third day despite clashes between rival militias.