On Thursday, Rwanda welcomed the decision of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to release its soldiers who were captured last month.
In May, a corporal and a private were kidnapped while on border patrol and accused the DRC army together with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels of shelling rockets into its territory which injured civilians.
“They were soldiers on patrol along our border, they were grabbed by armed elements from probably FDLR and handed over to DRC authorities,” Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said, adding that the move to release the soldiers was not enough as it doesn’t answer why the shells were launched across the border.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi had agreed to release the two soldiers, as part of efforts to ease the tensions. Angolan President Joao Lourenco announced the move following his meeting with Tshisekedi.
“We are not interested in conflicts, we are not interested in crisis, we have had enough of that. We want stability, we want peace for all,” Makolo said and urged Rwandans traveling across the border to DRC to be vigilant in the face of growing anti-Rwanda sentiments.
“We want these actions to be stopped. We want our (two) soldiers to be released. But as long as the attacks continue and the security of our country continues to be compromised, we will have the right to defend ourselves, and you are fully aware of our capabilities.” – @Vbiruta pic.twitter.com/4mJX7sM9qI
— DOPE RWANDA���� (@NDIZEYELionel) May 31, 2022
Tensions between the two neighboring countries intensified last month after DRC accused Rwanda of supporting March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in North Kivu in renewed fighting. Rwanda has denied the charge.
Addressing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday, Rwanda’s ambassador to the UN Claver Gatete said Rwanda has no interest in destabilizing the DRC and instead accused Congolese forces of allying with the FDLR whose elements are blamed for the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Gatete castigated the resurgence of anti-Rwanda hate speech in DRC and urged the Council and the international community not to keep silent in view of what happened in Rwanda in 1994. Since March armed violence has displaced over 117,000 people in DCR’s Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories.
Lourenco also reportedly held a videoconference with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame and agreed to a face-to-face summit with Tshisekedi to be convened in the Angolan capital of Luanda, on a date to be announced.