Congo and Rwanda agree to reduce tensions over M23 rebels

Jul 5, 2022, 10:50 PM | Updated: Jul 6, 2022, 10:56 am

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Rwanda and Congo have agreed to reduce tensions following one-day talks between their presidents mediated by Angola, Congo’s presidency announced Wednesday.

The two countries will revive a Congo-Rwanda commission which will resume activities on July 12 in the Angolan capital, Luanda, according to the statement. It also called for a return to normal diplomatic relations between Kinshasa and Kigali, a cessation of hostilities and the “immediate and unconditional withdrawal” of the M23 rebel group from its positions in eastern Congo.

There was no immediate word on the talks from Rwanda, whose President Paul Kagame met with Congo President Felix Tshisekedi in Luanda, Angola’s capital, Wednesday amid growing tensions. Rwanda and Congo had traded angry statements stemming from allegations that Rwanda backs the M23, which is made up of mostly Tutsi fighters from Congo. The M23 last month seized a Congolese town near the Uganda border.

Rwanda in turn accuses Congo of supporting a group of rebels with members who allegedly took part in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

Both countries deny the allegations.

The African Union earlier this year asked Angola to mediate between Congo and Rwanda under the auspices of a regional body known as the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

About 170,000 people have been displaced in the weeks since M23 resurfaced in eastern Congo. Wednesday’s summit called for the return of all refugees to their countries of origin, according to the statement from the Congolese presidency.

___

Ssuuna contributed from Kigali, Rwanda.

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Congo and Rwanda agree to reduce tensions over M23 rebels