The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, said on Sunday June 5 that he had “no doubt” about Rwanda’s support for a rebellion that had come to “attack” his country, while repeating his wish to maintain peaceful relations with its neighbours.

The new Congolese-Rwandan crisis, caused by the resurgence in eastern DRC of the former Tutsi rebellion of the March 23 Movement (M23), was on the menu of discussions this weekend between Mr. Tshisekedi and his counterpart and Congolese neighbor Denis Sassou-Nguesso in his stronghold in Oyo, some 400 kilometers north of Brazzaville.

The government in Kinshasa accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23, after heavy fighting at the end of May with the Congolese army. Kigali denies this but, in retaliation, Kinshasa suspended flights on its territory from the RwandAir company and summoned the Rwandan ambassador to notify him of a “severe warning”.

President Tshisekedi had not yet publicly mentioned this crisis. “I have always maintained that it is better to build bridges than to build walls,” the DRC president told Congolese public radio and television. “Unfortunately, today we are where we are,” he lamented.

“Coming to attack the DRC”

“Wanting peace, brotherhood and solidarity is not a weakness,” he said. This should not be an opportunity for neighbors to come and provoke us. “I hope that Rwanda has learned this lesson because today it is clear, there is no doubt, Rwanda supported the M23 to come and attack the DRC”, continued Félix Tshisekedi.

The DRC president recalled that these rebels had been defeated, “totally defeated”, in 2013 by the Congolese army and “their arsenal confiscated”. “If today they have recovered, that means they came from somewhere, [were] armed somewhere,” he concluded.

President Sassou-Nguesso, for his part, declared himself “confident” about the resolution of this crisis. “I think we will quickly overcome these difficulties and bring peace through dialogue,” he said.

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