DRC Bans Soldiers from Engaging Rwandan Rebels Amidst US-Brokered Talks

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The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) have declared that they have banned their soldiers from engaging in any contact with Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

The military’s announcement was made on November 21, 2023, following separate meetings between US Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, and Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) regarding the de-escalation of tensions in their respective nations.

The goal of Haines’s visit was to get promises from the two presidents regarding how they would reduce hostilities in Eastern Congo.

According to Army Spokesperson Gen. Sylvain Ekenge, tensions heightened between the DRC and Rwanda because both countries were accusing each other of financially supporting rebel groups from each other’s countries, hence leading to escalating violence between the two neighbours.

“Violators of the directive shall face severe consequences in line with the applicable laws,” stated Ekenge.

Since the M23 rebel group’s resurgence in November 2021, Kinshasa has accused Kigali of supporting it; however, Kigali has consistently refuted this accusation and has also accused the Congolese military of working with the FDLR, an armed group based in Eastern Congo that is allegedly led by ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda and were involved in the genocide that occurred there in 1994.

President Paul Kagame said that the talks held over the weekend were going to help him and President Felix Tshisekedi address the core issues with the security system in the Eastern Democratic Republic (DRC) and take concrete measures to ease tensions by attending to their individual security concerns.

Even after both presidents made these assurances, the US government declared that it would closely observe the steps Rwanda and the DRC take to defuse the situation.

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