The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, deplored Thursday, June 30, the 62nd anniversary of his country’s independence, “the umpteenth aggression on the part of Rwanda” and affirmed his determination to oppose a “double diplomatic and military front” to the violence in the east.

“The celebration of this day takes place in a particularly worrying security context, which affects our existence as a nation,” the president said in an address broadcast on national television. “Our country, he said, is facing yet another aggression from Rwanda, which is acting under cover of the M23 terrorist movement, in violation of all international agreements and treaties. The March 23 Movement (M23) is a former Tutsi-dominated rebellion which, defeated in 2013, took up arms again at the end of 2021. Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting this rebellion, which Rwanda denies.

“I will spare no effort to ensure that […] the aggressors are pushed out of our territory”, assured the Congolese president. “Our option for peace and our sense of good neighborly relations are not a weakness,” he said, promising to use “all legal remedies” for “that the Congolese people live permanently in the peace and tranquility in its territory”. The Head of State defended the establishment in May 2021 of the state of siege in two eastern provinces, Ituri and North Kivu, plagued for almost thirty years by violence from armed groups. This measure, increasingly criticized, is bearing fruit, he said in substance.

Call for “general mobilization”

To put an end to this violence, he said, “we have resolved to direct our efforts towards the double diplomatic and military front”. In particular, he referred to the recent decision by the East African Community (EAC) to deploy a regional force in eastern DRC “to contribute to the definitive eradication of violence and insecurity”. “I demanded and obtained that Rwanda not participate, because of its commitment to the terrorist group M23”, he hammered.

The President also pledged his support to the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) and launched to the population “a solemn appeal for general mobilization” to “intensify the unfailing popular support which is doing so much good to the morale” of the combatants. “My appeal is addressed in a very particular way to our youth, whom I invite to enlist massively in the FARDC and in the national police,” he added.