The tiff between D.R.C and Rwanda has stirred unrest in Kinshasa as scores of masses went into the capital streets to denounce Paul Kagame and the Rwandan government. President Kagame is being implicated by the D.R.C government for sponsoring rebel activities in the North Kivu region. The protests come just a day after the African Union Chairperson Senegalese President Macky Sall had a tele-conversation with the warring leaders, imploring them to negotiate for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis.
The anti-Rwanda protest is said to have been initiated by a Congolese nationalist civil society group NDSCI. Hundreds of people who participated in the protest were seen waving placards and fliers with nationalist messages and pro-D.R.C slogans. Some of them had castigatory inscriptions against President Kagame and the Rwandan Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is understood that the demonstrators are against the Rwandan ‘political and military’ influence in Congo. One of the banners was branded "Congo is our country... not a single centimeter will go to Rwanda.”
The demonstrators held candles and shouted slogans against Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Some members of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, the oldest and ruling party in the D.R.C have pledged to back the government and FARDC (the Congolese army) in the armed struggle against the M23 rebels. The youths in particular are ready to do military service to defend the country, said Pasi Nkoyi a UDPS party official.
Relations between the two countries soured since the mass arrival in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Relations began to thaw after DRC President Felix Tshisekedi took office in 2019 but the recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited tensions, exacerbated by the detention of two Rwandan soldiers in Congo.
The recent armed confrontation between the Congolese army and the M23 rebels who are believed to the linked to ISIL has been an ongoing warfare. At least 73 thousand civilians have been displaced, some seeking refuge in the neighbouring countries Rwanda and Uganda. Meanwhile, Kinshasa has made repeated allegations that Rwanda was backing the M23 - a primarily Congolese Tutsi group after clashes between its fighters and the Congolese army broke out last week in the North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda.
In the latest rebel attack the Red Cross record that 16 people were killed, seven wounded and vehicles were torched during a night raid in the volatile east. One of those killed is reported to be a humanitarian Red Cross worker. He was shot as he was trying to flee the war zone. The cancer of rebel groups in the eastern part of D.R.C has insisted for a winding period spurning over a decade. The D.R.C eastern region is very infamous for inhabiting scores of hostile rebels that sporadically initiate uprisings against the government of the day.
The M23 revolt peaked in 2012 and 2013 when it captured large parts of North Kivu province in eastern DRC. In this rebellious venture, the M23 briefly seized Goma before being defeated and driven out of the country by Congolese troops backed by UN peacekeepers (MONUSCO). Following its defeat, the M23 signed an agreement with Kinshasa that included provisions for its fighters' reintegration into civilian society. However, the group has accused the government of breaching the agreement once more, and fighting has resumed.