DR Congo and Rwanda in new talks in Angola, Kagame absent

DR Congo and Rwanda in new talks in Angola, Kagame absent


DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta met in Angola on Wednesday amid rising tensions sparked by militia violence in eastern Congo.

Tshisekedi and Biruta were received at a hotel in the capital Luanda by Angolan President Joao Lourenco, who acted as a mediator between the two neighbors, an AFP correspondent noted.

But Rwandan President Paul Kagame was absent for reasons that were not immediately clear.

The Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen fierce fighting between Congolese troops and the M23 rebel group in recent months.

The clashes have sparked a diplomatic row, with the DRC accusing Rwanda of backing the rebels, which its far smaller neighbor denies.

The East African Community (EAC), of which Rwanda is a part, has also pledged to deploy a joint force to quell the violence.

Kenyan soldiers arrived in the DRC earlier this month, and Uganda says it will deploy around 1,000 troops shortly.

EAC Chairman Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta – the EAC’s “facilitator” in efforts to restore peace and security to the mineral-rich region – were also in Luanda.

Before the talks, members of the UN Security Council called for a cessation of fighting, the withdrawal of the M23 from the occupied territories and the end of “all external support to non-state armed actors, including the M23”.

The M23, a largely Congolese Tutsi militia, has seized tracts of land in North Kivu province and is approaching the region’s capital, Goma.

The DRC and Rwanda agreed on a de-escalation plan in July, but clashes erupted again the next day.

On Tuesday, Kinshasa said it would not sit down for talks with M23 rebels until the group withdrew from areas it controls.

The M23 first gained prominence 10 years ago when it captured Goma before being driven off and going down.

It resurfaced late last year, claiming that, among other things, the DRC failed to live up to a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army.

Rwanda denies the DRC’s allegations and accuses Kinshasa of collaborating with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group formed after the 1994 genocide in the DRC.

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