Congo and Rwanda to Meet for Talks Amid Tensions Over Rebels

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi will meet his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, for talks in Angola this week, officials said Monday.

There were no details on what they would discuss, but the neighbors have been at diplomatic loggerheads since a surge of attacks in eastern Congo by the M23 rebel group — which Kinshasa accuses Kigali of backing.  

Rwanda denies supporting the rebels and has, in turn, accused Congo of fighting alongside insurgents — a faceoff that has raised fears of fresh conflict in the region.

The meeting is likely to take place on Tuesday or Wednesday in Angola’s capital, Luanda, according to the officials — two of them from Congo and one Rwanda — who did not wish to be named.

Earlier on Monday, Kagame said he did not mind Rwanda being excluded from a regional military force set up in April to fight rebels in east Congo, removing a potential stumbling block to the initiative.

Congo had welcomed the plan but said it would not accept the involvement of Rwanda.  

“I have no problem with that. We are not begging anyone that we participate in the force,” Kagame told Rwanda’s state broadcaster in a wide-ranging interview.

“If anybody’s coming from anywhere, excluding Rwanda, but will provide the solution that we’re all looking for, why would I have a problem?” Kagame said.

At the end of March, the M23 started waging its most sustained offensive in Congo’s eastern borderlands since capturing vast swaths of territory in 2012 and 2013.

Rwanda accuses Congo’s army of firing into Rwandan territory and fighting alongside the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an armed group run by ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after taking part in the 1994 genocide.  

Recent attempts to stop the violence militarily have proven unsuccessful, and in some cases backfired, security analysts and human rights groups say.

Despite billions of dollars spent on one of the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping forces, more than 120 rebel groups continue to operate across large swaths of east Congo almost two decades after the official end of the central African country’s civil wars. 

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