Clarification on the US Stance Regarding the Eastern Congo Conflict

In a recent statement released on Tuesday by the US Embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United States firmly denounced rumors accusing the country of supporting the M23 rebels and Rwanda’s involvement in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo. The embassy’s communication sought to dispel nearly a dozen misconceptions circulating about the US’s alleged association with the M23 group and the broader conflict.

The statement emphasized that the US categorically rejects any support for the M23 group, a stance underscored by its call for all armed factions, including M23 (which is already under US sanctions), to cease hostilities and lay down their arms. The US has consistently urged Rwanda to stop its support for M23, highlighting its position as one of the first to do so.

Detailing the atrocities committed by M23, the US Embassy condemned the group’s numerous violations of international law, including forced sexual assault and civilian killings. These actions have been a significant factor in the US’s decision to impose sanctions on M23 since January 2013, with additional sanctions being placed on M23 leaders Willy Ngoma and Bernard Byamungu in December 2023 and August 2023, respectively.

Furthermore, the US Embassy in the DRC corrected false claims that the US has coerced the Congolese government into negotiations with M23. It stated that the US cannot and does not force dialogue between the DRC or any other country and its adversaries, actively seeking peaceful resolutions with its partners in the DRC government.

The embassy reiterated its support for African-led mediation efforts in resolving the conflict in Eastern Congo, led by President Joao Lourenco of Angola and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Additionally, the US debunked myths alleging it opposes the Congolese armed forces’ (FARDC) defense of national sovereignty, affirming its respect for the DRC’s right to protect its territory and people from internal or external threats.

Addressing another set of rumors, the embassy clarified that the US, through public calls, has consistently urged Rwanda to cease its support for M23 and withdraw its troops from Congolese territory. In September 2023, the US listed Rwanda among countries recruiting child soldiers due to its support for M23, emphasizing the need for Rwanda’s military disengagement from the DRC.

Contrary to allegations of supporting plans to partition the DRC, the US Embassy declared its policy respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC, essential for restoring peace in Eastern Congo. The embassy also refuted claims that American companies are instigating chaos in Eastern Congo to exploit mineral resources, pointing out that insecurity in the region deters American investment. The US’s interest lies in restoring stability to attract significant investments, including from American industries, to foster job creation, better wages, training, technological innovation, and community development.

This statement comes amid ongoing protests against the war in Eastern Congo, with some demonstrators accusing the US of backing Rwanda and M23, including incidents of burning the US flag. The US Embassy’s declaration aims to clarify its position and ongoing efforts toward a peaceful resolution in the region, emphasizing political solutions over military interventions to address the humanitarian crisis and loss of life in Eastern Congo.