CrisisWatch Rwanda

Deteriorated Situation

Resurgence of large-scale hostilities involving M23 militia in eastern DR Congo fuelled inflammatory rhetoric between Kigali and Kinshasa, as UN highlighted risk of direct conflict.

As violence early Oct flared between M23 rebel group, made up primarily of ethnic Tutsi combatants, and coalition of armed groups aligned with Congolese govt (see DR Congo), North Kivu military governor 10 Oct blamed “massacre” of seven civilians, who were found dead same day near Rumangabo military base (40km north of North Kivu’s capital Goma), on M23 and Rwanda Defence Force “terrorists”. At Security Council meeting, UN special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, Huang Xia, 17 Oct said risk of “direct confrontation” between Rwanda and DR Congo is “very real”, citing “military build-up” by both countries, “absence of direct high-level dialogue”, and “persistence of hate speech” as worrying signs. Both countries in following days continued to trade blame for violence as direct clashes between M23 and Congolese govt forces resumed in North Kivu. Kigali 23 Oct said Rwandan citizen was injured along border by stray bullet originating from DR Congo, accused coalition of “Kinshasa-backed illegal armed groups” of responsibility; also said Kinshasa’s “ongoing support” for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels and other armed groups “is escalating provocative actions along the Rwandan border”. Kinshasa 23-24 Oct released drone footage purportedly showing Rwandan army incursion into DR Congo to reinforce M23 positions in North Kivu, and said it had referred matter to joint verification mechanism set up as part of Luanda process.

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