Rwandan, DRCongo leaders in talks over clashes in eastern DRC
Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Democratic Republic of Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi went into talks on Wednesday amid an upsurge in violence in eastern DRC, according to an AFP correspondent.
Kagame’s office announced in a tweet Wednesday that he was in Luanda to “discuss the security situation in eastern DRC.”
It is the first time the two presidents will meet face-to-face since the “resurgence of violence,” a statement from Tshisekedi’s office said on Tuesday.
The two countries have been at loggerheads following increased attacks that have claimed dozens of lives and displaced tens of thousands of civilians in the DRC’s volatile east.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco, who is also the chairman of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), is brokering the talks at the request of the Africa Union.
Weeks of violence have grown into a diplomatic faceoff between the DRC and its neighbour Rwanda.
The row centres on a resurgent Congolese Tutsi militia called the M23.
One of more than 120 armed groups active in eastern DRC, the M23 briefly captured the city of Goma in North Kivu in 2012 before being crushed in a joint offensive by UN troops and the Congolese army.
The M23 took up arms again last November after accusing the Congolese government of failing to respect a 2009 agreement under which the army was to incorporate its fighters.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of abetting the rebels — a charge that Rwanda denies — and both countries accuse the other of carrying out cross-border shelling.
Bilateral ties have been strained for years, dating back to the mass arrival in the eastern DRC of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
Last month, East African leaders agreed to set up a regional force to end the security crisis in the east of the DRC, a vast country the size of continental western Europe.
Eastern DRC is also plagued by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a ruthless group billed by the so-called Islamic State as its Central African offshoot.
The ADF has been accused of killing thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bomb attacks in neighbouring Uganda.
Congolese and Ugandan troops launched a joint operation against the ADF last November, but massacres continue.