“As for Rwanda’s presence, that is an open secret,”: Kabila

The presence of Rwandan military forces in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is an “open secret”, President Joseph Kabila has said on state television.

In the rare public comments late Saturday, Kabila said he had also questioned Uganda over its alleged support for the rebel M23 movement operating in the region, and that Kampala denied any involvement.

“As for Rwanda’s presence, that is an open secret,” Kabila said in his first comments on the issue. “Can diplomacy be the answer? In any case there are three roads to a solution: military, political and diplomatic, or all three at the same time.”

Rwanda has persistently denied reports that it is backing the M23, formed in the DR Congo’s eastern Nord-Kivu province in April.

A report by the UN Group of Experts published in late June said M23 has been receiving direct aid from top Rwandan officials, including weapons, ammunition and recruits.

The M23 are Tutsi ex-rebels from the Rwanda-backed National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP).

They were integrated into the regular army of the DR Congo in 2009 as part of a peace deal that followed their failed 2008 offensive on the eastern city of Goma.

But the ex-rebels mutinied in April, demanding better pay and the full implementation of the March 23, 2009, peace deal, and have been engaged in running battles with the DR Congo army in the eastern Nord Kivu region.