The falling-out of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has heated up as the two neighboring countries have escalated their beef into ‘tradefare’. The tiff comes amid Kinshasa’s pointing fingers towards Kigali for fanning rebel attacks in Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has singled out Rwanda as the nemesis for supporting the resurgence of M23 rebels, a development that has renewed long-standing tensions between the neighboring countries. It is apparent that Kinshasa retains a firm belief that Rwanda is indirectly participating in the destabilization of her territory. Congo firmly believes that Rwanda is aiding the rebels with both ammunition and intel in the jointly owned eastern border.
While the two countries are understood to share a hostile past, the accusations that are being laid on Paul Kagame’s government are said to be backed up with ‘solid’ evidence. The Congolese government alleges that the Rwandan government supports M23 rebels in the country’s east, citing military equipment apparently found, along with testimonies from locals and images captured by soldiers.
Recently, a spokesperson to the Congolese Government issued a stern warning to Rwanda, asking the land-locked country to desist from sponsoring the M23 rebels who are fighting Congolese soldiers in North Kivu. On the contrary, Rwanda has been on record dismissing the allegations as unfounded, baseless and prejudicial. Instead, the country counter-accused its neighbor of supporting rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) who allegedly kidnapped two Rwandan soldiers recently while they were on border patrol.
In addition to Rwanda’s counterclaim, the Rwandan government insists that Congo is the hostile side in all these developments, pointing out that Congolese armed forces were responsible for firing rockets into its territory. The blame game that is raging on between the two neighboring countries has however taken a new angle as the countries have resorted to economic blockades.
In protest to Rwanda’s alleged sponsoring of the restless M23 rebels in North Kivu, the Congolese government has summoned Rwanda’s ambassador and suspended flights from the country. This air space ‘ban’ has obvious economic repercussions on RwandAir, the flag carrier airline for the Kigali government. This wide-reaching initiative has been feared to even inhibit the smooth flow of trade not only in the two bickering nations, but the entire region and continent.
The sitting African Union Chairman and Senegalese President, Macky Sall has also raised alarm over the confrontations, urging Presidents Felix Tshisekedi and Paul Kagame to negotiate for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The Chairman of Africa’s continental political bloc has further called upon the leaders of the two countries to exercise restraint and utilize the available A.U mechanisms to ensure a peaceful settlement of the feud.