Rwanda’s involvement, fight against the M23 and diplomacy: Tshisekedi discusses the situation in eastern DRC

The first question of the interview with the French daily seems rather embarrassing. Le Monde reminds the Congolese president of his electoral promise to declare war on Rwanda “at the slightest skirmish” while since this declaration, the M23 rebels have continued to advance and are now surrounding Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province. A question to which Félix Tshisekedi responds that there has been intense diplomatic activity, undoubtedly an allusion to the relaunch of mediation by Angolan President João Lourenço.

President Tshisekedi also mentions pressure on the DRC before warning. “I am not taking” the path to peace out of “weakness, but it is the path of last chance, beyond which we will respond to skirmishes because we have the means,” he said. hammered.

In this interview, the president also discusses his refusal to negotiate with the M23 insurgents and his demand for direct talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. This will depend on the steps in progress, according to Félix Tshisekedi who still mentions the steps of the Angolan president.

“Accomplice of Rwanda”

The French daily was also interested in the question of what could explain the lack of progress in Congolese military operations. On this subject, Félix Tshisekedi wanted to be reassuring. “We have to put things into perspective,” he says, assuring that “this is perhaps the case on certain axes but on others, we are pushing them back”, without further details.

Presence on the ground of “two private foreign military companies” that his detractors describe as “mercenaries” and the use of wazalendos – armed militias that he describes as “valiant warriors” even if they recruit child soldiers -, all these topics were discussed. On the first, he replies that “mercenaries fight and are paid for it. While instructor companies build capacity on the ground.” And on the second, the president retorts: “Some of them saw their parents being raped, others being massacred or beheaded. These are not people who think like you and me. Put yourself in their place for just a moment. They defend themselves with everything they have to do so. (…) You judge them by saying that there are international standards. But they are in such a state of mind that they no longer obey anything, including ourselves.”

And concerning the international community, he accuses it of being “accomplice of Rwanda”, particularly in the plundering of Congo’s resources. And when Le Monde asks him to name these countries, Félix Tshisekedi seems to hit the nail on the head: “I just remembered that Rwanda was not solely responsible for the misfortunes of the Congo.”

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