The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has expelled the Rwandan ambassador after M23 rebels seized Kitagoma border town, forcing hundreds of Congolese nationals to flee into Uganda’s Kisoro District.
The rebel group also seized the town of Kiwanja in eastern Congo Saturday, effectively cutting North Kivu’s capital Goma off from the upper half of the province.
A U.N. intervention brigade, which has been supporting government forces, said in a statement that four peacekeepers were wounded in the fighting.
On Saturday, October 29, 2022, DR Congo President and Supreme Commander of the FARDC and the National Police, H.E Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, chaired a Superior Council of Defense meeting on national security in relation to the evolution of the security situation in the eastern part of the vast mineral-rich country.
Patrick Muyaya, the government spokesman, later announced the decisions of the meeting, claiming “a massive arrival of elements of the Rwandan element to support the M23 terrorists” against DR Congo’s troops.
He said the defence council which sat at the Cité de l’Union Africaine in Kinshasa had decided to ask the government to give Rwandan ambassador, Vincent Karega, 48 hours to leave the country.
“It was a question of taking stock of the evolution of the security situation in North Kivu marked particularly by a series of attacks and the occupation of some Congolese localities, in the territory of Rutshuru, by the M23 supported by the Rwandan army,” said a communiqué of the defence council.
“In the light of the various reports collected on the ground, including that of the Joint Operations Center equipped with surveillance drones, it has been observed, in recent days, a massive arrival of elements of the Rwandan army to support the M23 terrorists for a general offensive against the positions of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
The Supreme Defense Council recalled that this M23 offensive, supported by the Rwandan army, has just dealt yet another blow to the Nairobi and Luanda peace processes that have been underway for several months.
“This criminal and terrorist adventure met fierce resistance from our Armed Forces determined to defend the country until the supreme sacrifice. These clashes caused a massive displacement of several thousand of our compatriots, making an already worrying humanitarian situation even more difficult,” the communiqué added.
In view of the above, the Supreme Defense Council asked the Government to expel, within 48 hours after his notification, Mr. Vincent Karega, the Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Rwanda stationed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“This is due, on the one hand, to Rwanda’s persistence in attacking the DRC and supporting the M23 terrorist movement, which it exploits for this purpose; and on the other hand, the contempt tinged with arrogance of the Rwandan authorities vis-à-vis both the Nairobi and Luanda process and the recommendations of the international community, more specifically the United Nations (UN), the African Union ( AU), the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and bilateral partners unanimously demanding the cessation of terrorist activities by M23 and all external support to him.”
The council also asked government to send, as a matter of urgency, a humanitarian mission to bring assistance to populations displaced by these attacks; take new additional measures restricting access to Congolese territory against Rwanda and increase the strike force of Armed and Security Forces.
It further sought to reaffirm the will of the Democratic Republic of Congo to remain engaged in the Nairobi and Luanda peace processes with a view to restoring lasting peace, security and stability in the Great Lakes region.
“At this particular time when national unity is threatened, the Superior Defense Council congratulated the Defense and Security Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo for their bravery and their determination to defend the territorial integrity of our country, to protect the populations as well as the Institutions of the Republic.”
“In order to preserve national unity, the Superior Council of Defense recalled the recommendation of the President of the Republic, Head of State, that of abstaining from any type of speech, acts of violence or stigmatization against the Rwandophone communities so as not to lend their flank to the enemy. It encouraged the competent services to ensure strict compliance with this recommendation.”
Finally, the Supreme Defense Council thanked the Congolese people for the outpouring of solidarity and patriotism shown towards Armed Forces and the populations affected by this aggression.
President Tshisekedi said he will address the Nation in the coming days.