The Congolese army has accused Rwanda of deploying 500 of its soldiers in eastern DRC in support of the M23 rebels. This is the latest accusation described Thursday as “baseless” by Kigali.
The new acrimonious exchanges come after about two weeks of renewed tension between the Democratic Republic of Congo and its Rwandan neighbour, clearly accused by Kinshasa of supporting this former Tutsi rebellion that reappeared late last year in the province of North Kivu. Kigali has always denied this.
At the end of May, the Congolese army had claimed to have arrested two Rwandan soldiers on DRC territory, whom Kigali claimed had been abducted on the Rwandan side of the border by Hutu rebels based in Congo.
“Since the arrest of soldiers of the Rwandan special force in the territory of Rutshuru, North Kivu, Rwanda has changed the dress of its soldiers to conceal its presence in Congolese territory alongside the M23 terrorists,” said Wednesday evening General Sylvain Ekenge, spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu.
Rwanda “has deployed in the vicinity of Chanzu 500 special forces soldiers, all dressed in a new green-black outfit and wearing the helmets of its special force,” he said, calling on the population to “denounce” their presence.
“Rwanda, through its foreign minister and permanent representative to the UN, has made its position clear: we have no interest in a crisis and will not respond to baseless accusations,” government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told AFP in Kigali.
“We do not comment on rumours,” Rwandan army spokesman Colonel Ronald Rwivanga also said.
Clashes between the Congolese army (FARDC) and the M23 took place earlier this week in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu. The UN mission in the DRC (Monusco), “engaged in the fighting alongside the FARDC”, said Wednesday that one of its positions had been attacked the day before, in Shangi.
“It said three peacekeepers were injured and evacuated to Goma, the provincial capital, on Twitter, “condemning” the attack.
Eight Monusco peacekeepers died on 29 March when their helicopter crashed while on a reconnaissance mission over a battle zone between the FARDC and the M23.