DRC, Rwanda must address historical differences, opposition leader says

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  • The leader of the Engagement for Citizenship and Development party in the DRC, Martin Madidi Fayulu, says root causes and funders of rebel groups must be addressed adequately.
  • The Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework has failed to establish peace in the region.
  • The AU and UN have asked for more effort to address the conflict affecting the DRC and its neighbours.

To address the long-standing tensions between neighbours Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) leaders should correct historical differences first, says a former DRC presidential candidate.

In an interview with News24, the leader of the Engagement for Citizenship and Development party, Martin Madidi Fayulu who controversially lost the presidential poll in 2018, said the root origins of rebel groups should be understood and what they stood for today.

"First, those in power should understand what M23 rebels, as well as their rivals, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), seek to achieve today and in the past. They also have to concretely establish their direct financiers instead of counter-accusations," he added.

In 2013, regional leaders came up with the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and region.

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The framework was set up as a window of opportunity to address the root causes of conflict.

Fayulu said it had failed because it was flawed from the beginning.

"Four countries - Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC - are parties to it because of their internal problems. The first three countries' issues have a direct effect on the DRC conflict, yet they have not been held accountable for their actions," he added.

Fayulu urged more action from the African Union (AU) and UN.

"The AU and UN are very much interested in what's happening in DRC and the region but they are not doing enough to address this conflict that has seen thousands displaced internally. It's one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world."

He said failure to contain insurgency was because of the state's own shortcomings, such as consolidating authority in the east where fighting was underway.

READ | Mugabe-era Zimbabweans who fled to Botswana lose political refugee status after court ruling

With the state not in control, the insurgency then has ripple effects felt by neighbouring countries.

As such, Rwanda has accused the DRC of funding and working with the FDLR and most recently, the kidnapping of two Rwandan soldiers two weeks ago.

On the other hand, the DRC accuses Rwanda of funding the M23 rebels who are destabilising the north-eastern parts of the country.

On Sunday, during a state visit to the Republic of Congo [Congo-Brazzaville], DRC President Felix Tshisekedi told his counterpart, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Rwanda supported the M23 rebels.

"Today, it's clear, there is no doubt, Rwanda has supported the M23 to come and attack the DRC," said Tshisekedi.

He added: "That [desire for peace] does not constitute an opportunity for neighbours to come and provoke us. I hope that Rwanda has learned this lesson."

For his part, Nguesso urged President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Tshisekedi to find common ground for the sake of regional stability.
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
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