Kagame Accuses Tshisekedi of Destabilizing Regional Unity

In a recent interview with Jeune Afrique, Rwandan President Paul Kagame leveled accusations against Felix Tshisekedi, his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), alleging that Tshisekedi has been misleading and creating discord among regional and international leaders regarding the conflict in the eastern part of the DRC. President Kagame expressed concern over what he perceives as Tshisekedi’s ability to manipulate discussions about the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo, suggesting that Tshisekedi’s narratives do not fully represent the conflict’s origins or realities.

During the conversation, Kagame criticized Tshisekedi for causing friction within regional organizations such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC). He posed the question of why diplomatic discussions are not being prioritized over allowing Tshisekedi to dictate the terms of the debate, especially in light of what Kagame considers to be misleading information propagated by the DRC’s President.

The Rwandan leader also addressed threats made by Tshisekedi in 2023, where he mentioned the possibility of attacking Kigali without needing to set foot on Rwandan soil. Kagame questioned the seriousness of these threats, attributing them to a lack of understanding by Tshisekedi of the implications of such statements by a country’s leader. He expressed significant concern over the unpredictability of Tshisekedi’s actions, emphasizing the need for Rwanda to be prepared for any eventuality.

Furthermore, Kagame commented on the preconditions set by Tshisekedi for improving relations between Rwanda and the DRC. He countered by suggesting Rwanda also has demands that should be met first, including a retraction of Tshisekedi’s previous statements about invading Rwanda and changing its government. Kagame firmly stated that discussions could not proceed without addressing the presence of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the Congo, a group Rwanda accuses of involvement in the 1994 genocide.

Additionally, Kagame did not spare criticism of Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye, accusing him of dishonesty regarding the deployment of additional troops to the Congo, despite Rwanda possessing information to the contrary.

The backdrop to these tensions includes a history of mutual accusations between Rwanda and the DRC. Rwanda has consistently denied allegations of supporting the M23 rebel group active in the DRC, while accusing the Congo of harboring FDLR fighters, according to Kigali some of whom are implicated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.