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KENYA’S RUTO SIDES WITH RWANDA’S KAGAME ON EASTERN DRC REBELS

Kenya’s William Ruto says the rebel crisis in the eastern DRC should not be blamed on Rwanda. Relations between DRC and Kenya were strained in December last year. For the first time, Kenyan President William Ruto has openly sided with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, on the conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By News24

Kenya’s President William Ruto. (Eduardo Soteras/AFP)

Kagame has always maintained that the conflict in eastern DRC was a result of a failure by President Felix Tshisekedi’s administration to solve internal problems.

In an interview with Jeune Afrique on Tuesday, Ruto said that in past engagements with DRC officials, they agreed that the M23 rebels were Congolese people and, as such, they were a Kinshasa problem – so he could not see how the rebel menace could be blamed on Rwanda.

“As heads of state, in a meeting, we asked, M23, the people in there, are they Rwandese or are they Congolese? And the DRC said these are Congolese. End of question.”So, if these are Congolese, how does it become a Rwanda problem? How does it become a Kagame problem?" he said.

The M23 rebels were designated a terrorist group by the United Nations as well as the DRC.

Tshisekedi refuses to negotiate with the group, and has on numerous occasions refused to engage with Kagame, too.

He said he would only talk to Rwanda when the rebels, widely believed to be funded by Kigali, are out of the DRC.

Kenya leads the Nairobi process, which is focused on facilitating dialogue between the DRC government and armed groups.

But relations between DRC and Kenya blow hot and cold.

DRC politicians and rebel groups met in Nairobi a week before the elections of December 2023 in the DRC, to form what they termed the Congo River Alliance, with an agenda to rival Tshisekedi’s regime.

While Kenya disassociated from the group, it didn’t arrest the individuals involved, which infuriated Tshisekedi.

In 2022, the DRC joined the East African Community (EAC) alongside Rwanda.

A year later, the DRC deployed an EAC standby force to the eastern DRC. Since December, it has been replaced by a SADC force led by South Africa.

In the Jeune Afrique interview, Ruto, like former South African president Thabo Mbeki, argued that only a political solution would end the conflict in the DRC.

Author: MANZI
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