According to Congolese Foreign Affairs Minister: ‘Kigali is Secretly Preparing a Genocide of Hutus in Eastern DRC

On May 9, 2024, Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), raised significant concerns during a meeting with diplomatic representatives accredited in Kinshasa. He announced that the DRC had formally addressed the UN Security Council following the Rwandan army and its allied M23 militia’s bombing of the Mugunga displaced persons’ camp on May 3, 2024.

In his detailed discourse to the diplomats, Lutundula updated the casualties of the Mugunga bombing to approximately 35 deaths and 37 injuries. He emphasized that a central government delegation had already been dispatched to Goma to address the crisis and underscored the gravity of the attack.

The Congolese government condemned the attack and appreciated the international solidarity shown by partners, notably the United States, which quickly denounced the assault. However, Lutundula cautioned the diplomats against any political maneuvering that might cloud public understanding.

“The path to neutrality is fraught with complexities. In politics and diplomacy, one must act like a referee: neutral yet decisive,” he explained. He stressed that the protection of the camp and its inhabitants rests primarily with the DRC, as the camp and its residents are on Congolese soil.

He voiced the government’s concerns over the ongoing delicate diplomatic talks, especially following recent escalations attributed to Rwandan forces. He criticized certain ambiguous international communications that could potentially complicate these diplomatic efforts.

Lutundula highlighted the ongoing diplomatic initiatives, such as the dismantling of the FDLR militia, which was proposed at a recent Angola-hosted meeting under the Luanda process initiated by the African Union in May 2022.

Significantly, Lutundula addressed claims made by Rwandan President Paul Kagame in an international media interview. Kagame had stated that Rwandan forces would not leave the DRC until the rights and territories of Tutsi Congolese were secured. The Minister articulated a grave concern that these statements might intensify existing ethnic tensions between Hutus and Tutsis in the DRC, particularly in volatile North Kivu.

“Kigali claims that Congolese Tutsis are persecuted and threatened with genocide, yet we observe that the territories frequently attacked are those where the majority of inhabitants are Congolese Hutus,” Lutundula declared. This statement underscores the complex interplay of ethnic divisions and territorial disputes that could potentially escalate into violence.

He criticized Kigali’s narrative as promoting a ‘stealth genocide’ against Hutu Congolese, ostensibly to protect Tutsi rights. He warned of the potential this had to incite further conflicts and destabilize the already volatile Great Lakes region.

As the meeting concluded, Lutundula reiterated the importance of international cooperation and transparency, especially with the European Union. Following President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi’s recent visit to Paris, he reiterated a proposal to establish a joint EU-DRC expert committee to ensure the traceability of strategic products. This committee aims to build mutual trust and ensure that the mineral wealth of the DRC contributes positively to the region’s stability and prosperity.

The Belgian ambassador and other diplomats expressed support for this initiative, recognizing the importance of such mechanisms in fostering regional stability, prosperity, and well-being amidst ongoing conflicts over mineral resources.