CONGO-RWANDA | A Growing Crisis?

Prof James Ker-Lindsay

in June 2023, a high-level UN panel accused Rwanda of supporting an insurgence in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While the Rwandan Government has angrily denied that it lies behind the group, known as M23, many Western states are pointing the finger of blame at Kigali. So, what lies behind the tensions between Rwanda and the DRC? And could we be about to see another Congo War?

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda have had a complicated and brutal history. Having been under Belgium’s colonial, they were subject to numerous atrocities. This laid the foundations for difficulties as they gained independence in 1960 and 1962. For its part, exceptionally resource-rich Congo was immediately plunged into a brutal war that eventually saw it come under the dictatorial regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, who renamed the country Zaire. As for Rwanda, it would experience deep intertribal tensions that would result in a genocide in 1994 as the majority Hutu murdered 800,000 Tutsi. This would in turn, see the overthrow of Mobutu. But the allies soon turned on each other, sparking a Second Congo War. This would drag in many other African countries, becoming known as Africa’s Great War or Africa’s World War. But while this ended in 2002, tensions continue. since then, Rwanda has continued to have a major influence over the DRC, supporting a major insurgency in the country’s east. This has again been highlighted by the UNbGroup of Experts. So, could we see a new conflict between Rwanda and the DRC?