Rwanda president denies backing M23 rebels in DRC

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame has denied backing a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that together with the Rwandan army is accused of the systematic pillaging of the DRC’s natural resources.

The DRC last year made a second referral of the issue to the International Criminal Court, which is already investigating the conflict.

Kagame said on Tuesday that the conflict threatens the region’s security and has created a humanitarian crisis as hundreds of refugees flee the DRC to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda every day.

The Tutsi-led M23 rebel group launched a new offensive in the eastern DRC in March 2022, seizing towns and villages in an area bordering Uganda. The fighting forced more than one million people to flee.

Kinshasa has accused Rwanda of backing the M23.
However, Kagame said on Tuesday: “Rwanda did not in any way create what is happening in eastern Congo. I am giving you facts, go and investigate and prove me wrong.

“With time there has been an effort to actually make it our war, like we are the ones who started it,” Kagame said.

About Rwanda’s security, Kagame said: “When it comes to defending this country, which has suffered for so long and nobody came to its aid, I don’t need permission from anybody to do what we need to do to protect ourselves.”

Kagame was giving his opening address at ‘Umushyikirano’ – an annual forum for national dialogue in which Rwandans gather to assess issues related to the state of their nation, the functioning of decentralised structures and national unity, among others.

This year the event is taking place during the 30-year commemoration of the 1994 genocide, in which more than 800 000 Rwandans died, with most victims from the Tutsi grouping

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