The Rwandan government said Monday that US statements on the conflict in eastern Congo accusing Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group could undermine regional peace processes.
African leaders meeting in Ethiopia on Feb. 17 gave Congolese rebels until March 30 to withdraw from all occupied areas in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The US State Department in a statement last week urged Rwanda to “stop supporting the rebel group and withdraw its soldiers from the DRC” to facilitate the peace process in accordance with a timetable approved at the mini-summit of East African Community leaders.
“The United States appears consistently out of step with the decisions of the regional processes and risks undermining them by continuing to endorse the DRC government’s false narrative blaming Rwanda for the crisis,” the Rwandan government said in a statement.
The DR Congo has accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, a charge Rwanda persistently denies.
Kigali in turn accuses the Congolese military of allying with Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The government also slammed the international community for its “repeated failure” to condemn Kinshasa for its “preservation” of the Rwandan FDLR rebels” in Congo.
“We cannot accept for Rwanda’s security concerns to be trivialized and ignored,” the statement said.
The resurgence of the M23 has heightened tensions between the two neighboring countries.
The government warned that “given Rwanda’s “legitimate security concerns, defensive and preventive mechanisms have accordingly been reinforced to guard against violations of our airspace and borders.”
Since last year, the M23 rebels have seized key towns in North Kivu province. The latest to fall was the strategic mining town of Rubaya, which was seized on Sunday.
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