Rwanda Expresses Concerns Over SAMIDRC Deployment in DRC

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In an official correspondence dated 3rd March 2024 from Kigali, Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, addressed to Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, the Rwandan government voiced its concerns over the planned virtual meeting of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) set for 4th March 2024. The meeting aims to deliberate on the situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (EDRC) and the deployment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC).

Rwanda, not being invited to the meeting, seeks to convey its apprehensions regarding the endorsement of SAMIDRC’s deployment and the potential support from the African Union and strategic partners. The Rwandan government underscores the threat SAMIDRC, operating alongside forces including the FARDC-led coalition with FDLR forces, ethnic-driven local armed groups, Burundian armed forces, and European mercenaries, poses to Rwanda and the region. This coalition, as detailed in reports by the United Nations Group of Experts on DRC in December 2023, is seen as a challenge to the political process in the DRC.

Highlighting the historical context, the letter traces the crisis back to July 1994, following the influx of defeated Rwandan forces into then Zaire, which led to the formation of the FDLR. The failure to disarm these forces has perpetuated a threat to Rwanda and influenced the region’s stability. The Rwandan government criticizes the selective approach of the SADC-led Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) established in 2013, which targeted the M23 while neglecting the FDLR and ADF groups.

Further, Rwanda expresses concern over the DRC and Burundi’s leaders’ intentions towards Rwanda, emphasizing the need for the African Union to encourage the DRC government to seek peaceful resolutions through existing regional processes, such as the Nairobi and Luanda processes. The Rwandan government suggests a field visit by PSC members to the Great Lakes Region to gain firsthand insights into the conflict and reiterates its commitment to supporting a peaceful resolution.

The letter, signed by Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, also addresses copies to the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, members of the PSC, and the Secretary-General of the East African Community, underlining Rwanda’s plea for a reconsideration of the proposed SAMIDRC deployment and an emphasis on diplomatic solutions to the longstanding conflict in the EDRC.