Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's tour of Africa comes to an end. After Blinken's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the US official has travelled to Rwanda, the third and last stop on his official trip, to continue with the US objective of strengthening its diplomatic ties with different countries in sub-Saharan Africa at a time when Russian and Chinese influence on the continent is more than notorious.
Both in Rwanda and during his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Blinken has asked the presidents of both countries to cease any kind of support for armed groups in the east of the Congolese country, following a UN report on this alleged collaboration. In this context, the various investigations indicate that the Rwandan armed forces have been fighting alongside the M23, a group that reactivated its fighting in the northwest of the country last March and has been terrorising the population for years.
Founded in early 2012, the M23 group was allegedly born as a splinter group of the defunct National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), another group of Rwandan rebels who fought against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the Congolese country. A few months after the birth of the M23, the group managed to occupy the city of Goma for weeks and since then the east of the DRC, where they are located, has become a bloody scene fuelled by rebel groups and attacks by the Congolese army.
This is what Blinken declared after holding a press conference in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, in which he stated that the message addressed "to the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, and to the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, has been the same: any support (...) to armed groups in the east of the DRC endangers local communities and regional stability".
He also declared that he had spoken with Kagame "about credible reports that Rwanda continues to support the rebel group M23 (March 23 Movement) and that it has its own forces in the DRC", a collaboration that the Rwandan country has described as "false". This Movement, which operates in different areas of the Congolese country, especially in the east, is in major conflict with the central government, a situation that has led to the displacement of a large number of refugees.
According to the head of US diplomacy, both Rwanda and the DRC would be "prepared to resume talks within the framework of the Nairobi process", referring to the rapprochement between different rebel groups and the Congolese government, promoted by the East African Community (EAC), which took place in the Kenyan capital.
However, the only thing this area has known for decades has been violence. More specifically, eastern Congo, known for its mineral wealth, has been the scene of numerous conflicts since the 1990s when the civil war and genocide of the Tutsi population in Rwanda spilled over the border into six other African countries. Alongside this, local violence has included conflicts over control of both land and resources, as well as local and rebel movements belonging to other neighbouring countries.
Although a peace agreement was reached in 2003, there are still at least 120 armed groups active in the region today. On the other hand, according to UN figures, the region is home to a population of 20 million people who are at risk of a major crisis, aggravated by the emergence of new terrorist groups.
Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra