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.
U.S. secured commitments from Kigali and Kinshasa to de-escalate tensions as Rwanda-backed M23 armed group made territorial gains in DR Congo.
U.S. said Kigali, Kinshasa agreed on de-escalation steps. U.S. govt 21 Nov said Intelligence Chief Avril Haines 19-20 Nov travelled to Rwanda and DR Congo, secured commitments from Kigali and Kinshasa to de-escalate tensions, although specific measures were not articulated publicly. Congolese army same day prohibited all soldiers, regardless of their ranks, from establishing or maintaining “any contact” with anti-Kigali Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. Fighting in following days continued in North Kivu between M23 rebels and Congolese forces.
Kinshasa continued to accuse Kigali of incursions, support for M23 rebels. Earlier in month, DR Congo’s permanent representative at UN, Zénon Mukongo Ngay, 1 Nov said images captured by UN mission (MONUSCO) surveillance drones show columns of Rwandan soldiers crossing border to reinforce M23 rebel positions in Runyoni, Kibumba and Tshanzu localities in North Kivu province. Following request filed by Kinshasa in May, International Criminal Court 4 Nov confirmed it will conduct preliminary examination to “determine the advisability of opening a new investigation” into crimes committed by M23 and others in North Kivu since 2022.
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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