Rwanda, DR Congo Agree on M23 Rebels Immediate Withdrawal

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • July 7, 2022

The presidents of Rwanda, DR Congo and Angola have agreed on the immediate cessation of hostilities between the two neighbouring countries and withdrawal of M23 rebels that seized the Bunagana border town for more than a month now.

In a meeting chaired by Angola’s president João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço in Luanda, Angola, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, and DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi agreed that M23 rebels should unconditionally withdraw from their positions.

“It also provides for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the M23 from its positions in the DR Congo. The roadmap stipulates that any exploitation of natural resources must be carried out with strict respect for the sovereignty of states,” a statement issued by President Tshisekedi yesterday reads in part.

President Tshisekendi accuses Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels and also providing troops, who are allegedly embedded in the rebel group. The Rwanda President, however, accuses the DR Congo of supporting a Rwandan rebel group. Each country denies the allegations.

The closure of the border has affected Uganda’s trade route and road construction projects in the DR Congo.

Both presidents went into yesterday’s meeting, each threatening to escalate tensions if their issues were not resolved.

The DR Congo closed its borders with Rwanda following M23 rebels capturing Bunagana Town on the Congolese side. The Congolese government also suspended trade and mineral deals with Rwanda, which has serious consequences to Kigali’s economy since they export most of their goods there. They also import minerals from DR Congo.

This is the second time Rwanda and DR Congo presidents meet over the security issue in eastern DR Congo in less than a month.

The parties agreed on a process dubbed ‘the Luanda Roadmap to deescalate the tensions’.  They will revive the DR Congo-Rwanda joint commission, which had not met for several years and would meet next weddddThe third conclave agreed that M23 rebels withdraw from its positions, but they declined. They continued to fight the Congolese forces.

The East African Community agreed to send a defence force led by Kenya to disarm all non-government forces, including M23 rebels and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwanda rebel group.

However, the DR Congo rejected any move to allow Rwanda to be part of the defence force to be deployed in Congo.

On Tuesday, M23 rebel group said they hoped the Angola meeting would bring peace in the country.