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Rwanda Protests AU Support for SADC Forces in DRC

The government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested against a non-inclusive move by the African Union (AU) towards endorsing the SADC Mission in DR Congo (SAMIDRC).

The SADC regional force was deployed to eastern DR Congo in December 2023, comprising troops from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania.

In a letter addressed to the Chairperson of the AU Moussa Faki on Sunday, March 3, the government said it had learned with concern about a planned virtual meeting scheduled on Tuesday, March 4 by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the AU to endorse the SAMIDRC and assess possible support that the AU and other strategic partners could extend to the mission.

“Since Rwanda is not invited to participate, we request that the following points be conveyed to the session,” the letter read, before pointing out that the SAMIDRC is fighting alongside a FARDC-led coalition which includes the FDLR genocidal forces, ethnic-driven local armed groups allied to FDLR under the umbrella of Wazalendo, and Burundian armed forces under a bilateral arrangement.

The letter went on to talk about the involvement of European mercenaries and private military security companies “including one associated with the former Blackwater,” as reported by the United Nations Group of Experts on DR Congo in December 2023.

“SAMIDRC as an offensive force in coalition with these elements cannot substitute for a political process that has been blocked by the Government of DRC. Therefore, the African Union is urged to not “authorise” or fund SAMIDRC,” the letter stressed.

The government once again emphasised that the current crisis in eastern DR Congo can be traced back 30 years ago when in July 1994 the defeated Rwandan genocidal government and forces that included the notorious Interahamwe militia fled to the then Zaire.

“Instead of disarming the defeated genocidal forces, the Zairean government supported by foreign actors helped them to re-organize, and they are now known as the FDLR,” the letter read.

“The FDLR genocidal militia has become a permanent threat to Rwanda and has exported genocide ideology to the DRC. This led to the persecution and displacement of hundreds of thousands of members of the Congolese Tutsi Community who then fled to Rwanda and other countries in the region,” it went on.

In early 2023, the East African Community (EAC) deployed a regional force (EACRF) to address the conflict in eastern DR Congo. The development led to a ceasefire from March to September 2023, but the DR Congo government expelled it and replaced it with the SADC mission under an offensive mandate.

Rwanda’s letter to the AU stressed that the move was in disregard of the Nairobi and Luanda political processes, and raises potential tension between the EAC and SADC regional communities.

“The government of Rwanda wishes to recall that the conflict has persisted in eastern DR Congo because the international community has deliberately ignored the root causes, which include support to and preservation of Rwandan genocidal forces in eastern DR Congo, refusal of the government of DR Congo to address genuine grievances of the Congolese Tutsi, and refusal to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Congolese refugees scattered in the region,” the letter read.

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