UN urges restraint over Rwanda-DR Congo tensions

UN urges restraint over Rwanda-DR Congo tensions
UN urges restraint over Rwanda-DR Congo tensions

Africa-Press – Rwanda. Following the third violation of Rwandan airspace by a warplane from DR Congo on Tuesday, January 24, the United Nations special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Huang Xia, has called upon the two countries to “exercise maximum restraint” amid high tensions.

The Congolese warplane incursion was the third in three months. Unlike the previous two incidents in November and December 2022, the Rwanda army opened fire on the Sukhoi-25 jet.

In a statement on Thursday, January 26, Xia expressed “deep concern” about the reports of a warplane incursion and urged the two countries to “work towards defusing tensions through dialogue.”

“The Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and other regional instruments can help ascertain the facts surrounding this incident and address any misunderstanding,” the statement said.

The UN special envoy, based in Nairobi, Kenya, also called on “all actors to remain committed to and abide by the decisions made” at the November 23, 2022, Luanda Mini Summit of Heads of State.

Kinshasa abandoned the commitments made in Luanda, including disarming the FDLR militia and continues to allege that Kigali supports the M23 rebels. Rwanda has nothing to do with the war in DR Congo, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta reiterated, while speaking about relations with neighbouring countries in parliament on Thursday.

According to Kigali, Kinshasa is, among others, violating the Luanda mini-summit’s call for the cessation of all political and military support to the genocidal militia FDLR and other illegal armed groups by continuing to provide weapons as well as fighting alongside illegal armed groups in eastern DR Congo.

This, according to Kigali, also constitutes a clear violation of the Nairobi Process, which is aimed at disarmament and demobilizing armed groups. Kinshasa’s behaviour, by and large, is seen as a threat to Rwanda’s security.

Rwandan authorities have, on several occasions, reiterated their not being inclined to be dragged into the DR Congo’s internal problems. But they also emphasise that when push comes to shove, Rwanda is ready to protect its sovereignty.

The UN Special Envoy said he was in contact with officials of countries of the region “to help defuse tensions” between Rwanda and the DR Congo.

He called for renewed commitment by regional countries and their partners to the full implementation of the peace, security and cooperation framework for the DR Congo and the region signed in February 2013, as well as pledged his office’s full support and that of the United Nations, to regional peace efforts.

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