"US Warns Rwanda and Congo to Step Back from Brink of War"

The United States issued a stern warning to Rwanda and Congo on Tuesday, urging them to step back from the brink of war, amid escalating tensions between the two African nations.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood delivered the warning at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, called by France, as violence intensified in Congo’s mineral-rich east, which shares a border with Rwanda.

Wood emphasized that Rwanda, Congo, and other regional actors must engage in immediate diplomatic talks, stating that such efforts are the only path to a peaceful resolution. He highlighted the need for a negotiated solution and sustainable peace, emphasizing that military conflict should be avoided.

The warning comes after Rwanda rejected U.S. calls for the withdrawal of its troops and surface-to-air missile systems from eastern Congo. The U.S. State Department also criticized the escalating violence caused by M23, an armed group allegedly backed by Rwanda.

Rwanda’s Foreign Ministry stated that its troops are defending Rwandan territory due to a perceived military buildup by Congo near the border. The ministry cited threats to Rwandan national security from the presence of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in Congo, a group that includes alleged perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.

Congo’s U.N. Ambassador Zenon Ngay Mukongo called on the Security Council to demand Rwanda’s withdrawal of troops without pre-conditions and to halt support for M23. He accused Rwanda of illegally occupying part of Congo’s eastern province of North Kivu and supporting M23 to destabilize Congo and exploit its resources.

Rwanda’s U.N. Ambassador Ernest Rwamucyo expressed concern over the integration of the “genocidal FDLR” into the Congolese army, highlighting the violence and hate speech targeting Tutsis in Congo. He warned of a possible genocide and emphasized the need for Congo to end its support for FDLR and ensure its demobilization and repatriation to Rwanda.

The recent escalation of conflict in eastern Congo, with M23 threatening to take over the city of Goma, has led to a grave humanitarian crisis. Millions of people face displacement, human rights abuses, and gender-based violence. Wood urged the international community to take immediate steps to end the fighting and de-escalate tensions between Congo and Rwanda.

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Piers Potter


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