Already high tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa have risen sharply after Rwanda’s defence forces shot at a Congolese warplane they accuse of violating Rwandan airspace. In this Q&A, Crisis Group examines why the situation has deteriorated and outlines pathways toward de-escalation.
Regional leaders discussed situation in eastern DR Congo, and UN annual report heavily criticised Rwanda’s role in DR Congo.
Regional peace efforts continued. Regional leaders 3 June met in Angola’s capital Luanda for extraordinary summit of International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to discuss eastern DR Congo and Sudan. Participants notably urged M23 armed group to accelerate withdrawal from North Kivu province and “condemned any attempt by the M23 [and others] to revive hostilities in occupied areas”. DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi attended, while PM Edouard Ngirente represented Rwanda in place of President Kagame. Angola 27 June also hosted first quadripartite summit of ICGLR, Southern African Development Community, East African Community and Economic Community of Central African States under African Union auspices; participants pledged better coordination of peace initiatives in eastern DR Congo.
UN report condemned Rwanda’s intervention in DR Congo. In annual report published 20 June, UN Group of Experts on DR Congo reported “evidence of direct interventions by the Rwanda Defence Force on Democratic Republic of the Congo territory, either to reinforce M23 combatants or to conduct military operations”. U.S. 19 June welcomed report and reiterated call for Rwanda to “immediately remove Rwandan Defense Force troops from Congolese territory” and “cease support for the UN- and U.S.-sanctioned M23 armed group”.
Rwanda has become a major player in the Central African Republic, helping the government fight insurgents, supporting state reforms and investing in numerous businesses. This engagement has rewards but also comes with risks. Bangui and Kigali should act now to minimise the latter.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Richard Moncrieff, Crisis Group’s interim Great Lakes project director, about an incident in which Rwanda's army shot at a Congolese fighter jet, raising fears that tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali could boil over.
Fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is intensifying, with Ugandan and Burundian soldiers in pursuit of rebels and Congolese insurgents on the rebound. With help from its allies, Kinshasa should step up diplomacy lest the country become a regional battleground once more.
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Great Lakes expert Nelleke van de Walle about the escalation of violence in the eastern DR Congo, as Uganda and Burundi deploy troops to fight rebels in the area and Rwanda threatens to do the same.
President Tshisekedi’s plans for joint operations with DR Congo’s belligerent eastern neighbours against its rebels risks regional proxy warfare. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage diplomatic efforts in the region and Tshisekedi to shelve his plan for the joint operations.
Three Great Lakes states – Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda – are trading charges of subversion, each accusing another of sponsoring rebels based in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Outside powers should help the Congolese president resolve these tensions, lest a lethal multi-sided melee ensue.
Testimony by Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights on “Examining the Role of Rwanda in the DRC Insurgency”.
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