Fraught ties between DR Congo and Rwanda date back decades

The Democratic Republic of Congo and its smaller neighbor in eastern Rwanda are at the height of their power under a group of rebels blamed for bloody attacks in eastern DRC.

Because of this series the DRC is accusing Rwanda of supporting the M23 group, an allegation that Rwanda denies.

Here is the background to the quarrel, whose roots are decades old:

Migration and genocide

During the Belgian colonial era, thousands of Rwandan farmers moved into the fertile hills of Congo ‘s Kivu region, sowing the seeds for rwandophone communities known as the “Banyarwanda,” “Banyamulenge” or “Banyabwisha.”

Other crises in Rwanda and Burundi prompted more migrants into the Congo, and eventually self – defense groups set up as ethnic Rwandans came under pressure on the west side of the border.

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda erupted.

More than a million Rwandan Hutus fled into the Congo. Many of them were troops or militias that took part in the bloodshed, which claimed the lives of about 800,000 people, mostly members of the Tutsi minority as well as a moderate Hutus.

The influx became the main source of friction. Rwanda’s post – genocide regime, led by the country’s current president Paul Kagame, has sent armed groups to attack its territory.

Regional wars

In 1996, Uganda and Rwanda supported a rebel campaign against the army of Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was overthrown the following year by a coalition led by opposition leader Laurent-Desire Kabila.

But relations between Kabila and his former allies quickly collapsed.

In 1998, a new Rwandan-backed uprising began in Kivu, eventually sucking in other countries across the region and dozens of armed groups.

The conflict was essentially controlled over the region’s mineral wealth, which even in 2000 sparked a violent confrontation between Rwanda and Uganda over the Kisangani mining town.

In 2002, Rwanda and the DRC signed a peace agreement, but the relationship has since been marked by mutual suspicions and allegations of cross – border mediation through rebel groups.


In 2004, an uprising began in South Kivu Province and then spread to North Kivu led by two former army officers. The Kinshasa government has accused Rwanda of supporting them, a charge he denied.

Two years later, one of the rebel leaders, Laurent Nkunda, launched his own militia, the National Congress for the Protection of the People (CNDP), the DRC reiterated its Kigali support.

But in 2009, during a brief but brief spell in relations, Rwandan troops joined the DRC with the blessing of Kinshasa to carry out an operation against the Rwandan Hutu rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Freedom of Rwanda (FDLR).

Nkunda was arrested during this operation.


In 2012, a new rebel group emerged among the Congolese Tutsi rebels, led by former CNDP members who were incorporated into the DRC army under a peace agreement signed on March 23, 2009.

They used that date as inspiration for their name – “March 23 Movement,” or M23. According to a UN report, Rwanda supported the M23.

In November 2012, the group briefly seized the city of Goma in eastern Congo.

But a year later, the group was beaten and forced to leave the country by a joint offensive by the UN and the Congolese army.

In late 2013, in Nairobi, the M23 and Kinshasa signed an agreement that included provisions allowing former rebels to be incorporated into the military for reintegration into civilian life.

But the M23 became dissatisfied with what it said was Kinshasa’s failure to enter the market.

The group returned armed last November. The violence in North Kivu escalated in late March, prompting thousands of people to flee.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting, financing and arming the rebels. Rwanda denies the charge, and instead accuses the DRC army of supporting the FDLR.

Fraught ties between DR Congo and Rwanda date back decades Source link Fraught ties between DR Congo and Rwanda date back decades

Back to top button