Amid increasing tensions, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting between leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tensions have largely been related to the activities of an armed group called M23 in eastern DR Congo which shares borders with Rwanda.
M23 had been dormant for years but resumed its attacks last November, making significant gains in recent months.
President Kagame met with President @EmmanuelMacron of France and President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo to discuss solutions to the security situation in eastern DRC. pic.twitter.com/rcvrdF3P9v
— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) September 21, 2022
In June the group captured the strategic town of Bunagana on the border with Uganda.
The rebel group’s activity has led to deterioration in relations between Rwanda and DR Congo.
On Tuesday President of Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi told the UN General Assembly that Rwanda was supporting the rebel group M23.
“The involvement of Rwanda and its responsibility in the tragedy that my country and my compatriots, in the areas occupied by the Rwandan army and its allies of the M23 are no longer questionable,” Tshisekedi said in his speech.
The Congolese leader said Rwanda’s continuous denial can only be ended when “the latest report by UN experts on the security situation in eastern DRC” are distributed to UN member countries to examine.
Tshisekedi said failing to do so will only “encourage Rwanda to pursue its aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the DRC and, on the other hand, to further feed the legitimate suspicion of the Congolese on the impartiality of the UN as well as the complicity of some of its members in these crimes.”
Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame in his speech on Wednesday also highlighted the crisis in eastern DRC but avoided responding directly to his Congolese counterpart’s accusations.
Kagame who in the past has denied such support for armed groups though said the crisis needed serious attention from all parties.
“There is an urgent need to find the political will to finally address the root causes of the instability in eastern DRC. The blame game does not solve the problem,” Kagame said.
He said the crisis is not unsurmountable as there are solutions that can be found for it to protect lives and property.
Macron met the two African leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The Congolese presidency said in a tweet that the two leaders had agreed to work together for M23 rebels to withdraw from occupied areas “as soon as possible” and for displaced people to return.
Ils ont également convenu d’intensifier durablement leur coopération pour lutter contre l’impunité et mettre un terme à l’action des groupes armés dans la région des Grands Lacs, dont les Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR).
— Présidence RDC 🇨🇩 (@Presidence_RDC) September 21, 2022
The United Nations(UN) last month expressed outraged over the killing of some civilians in the DR Congo by some peacekeepers.
The civilians died whilst fifteen others sustained injuries when the peacekeepers opened fire at a border crossing.
Frustration over what residents see as an inability by the peacekeeping force to stop attacks by armed groups in the region erupted into the violent protests.
The protesters attacked two of Monusco’s bases in Goma and Butembo, where three UN peacekeepers were killed.