Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Rwandan President Paul Kagame has agreed to assist the EAC facilitator to encourage the M23 to cease fire and withdraw from the conquered territories", reads a statement from former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, facilitator of the East African Community (EAC) for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The former Tutsi rebellion, the M23 (March 23 Movement) took up arms late last year, seized Bunagana, on the border with Uganda, in June and, after several weeks of calm, went on the offensive on October 20, expanding the territory under its control.
The advance of the M23, in addition to arousing great apprehension in the eastern DRC, has caused serious tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa, whose government accuses Rwandan troops of having entered Congolese territory to support the M23. Kigali in turn accuses the DRC of collusion with the FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda), Rwandan Hutu rebels established in the DRC since the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.
Despite the start of mediation by the former Kenyan head of state, clashes between the Congolese army and the M23 rebels continued yesterday, November 18, on several fronts in eastern DRC.
Kenya has decided to send around 900 troops to the DRC as part of an EAC joint force set up to help restore security in the east of the country. A first group of soldiers arrived a week ago.
A soothing note in relations between the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi (a country that itself has its own military deployed in eastern Congo) comes from a joint note from the bishops of Rwanda and Burundi.
"We, Bishops of ACOREB (Association of Episcopal Conferences of Rwanda and Burundi), express our solidarity and spiritual closeness to the Congolese people, in the grip of deadly violence". "We urge all parties to the conflict to return to the table of dialogue and negotiations to resolve their conflicts peacefully without jeopardizing the lives of innocent people".
ACOREB members also assure the Congolese people of their "closeness and their prayers for the consolidation of peace in the DRC and in the entire sub-region". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 19/11/2022)