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DRC: fighting is "not the problem" of Rwanda, says Kagame

DRC: fighting is "not the problem" of Rwanda, says Kagame
Rwandan President Paul Kagame addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2022   -  
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Mary Altaffer/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.


Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday disassociated himself from the heavy human toll of the fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in a region directly bordering his country.

"The problem was not created by Rwanda and is not Rwanda's problem. It is Congo's problem," he said on the sidelines of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

A preliminary UN investigation last week accused the M23 rebellion of executing at least 131 civilians and committing rape and looting on November 29 and 30 in two villages in eastern DRC, in retaliation for clashes with armed groups.

The M23 ( "March 23 Movement" ) is a former predominantly Tutsi rebellion that took up arms late last year and conquered large swaths of territory north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu in the DRC.

According to Congolese authorities, UN experts and American diplomacy, the M23 is supported by Rwanda, but Paul Kagame rejected any link with the actions of the group: "I cannot be held responsible for Congolese of Rwandan origin who are denied their rights".

Fighting in the eastern region of North Kivu has heightened tensions between Rwanda and the DRC, with the latter country having notably expelled the Rwandan ambassador on 29 October.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi estimated on Tuesday, during a meeting with the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken that his country is the victim of "a hidden aggression but coming from Rwanda, and which has been destabilizing".

Paul Kagame has indicated that he does not know if he will meet his American counterpart Joe Biden at the summit.

But when asked what he would say to her if the two men met face to face, he said: "Africa should not be ignored. Africa should not be seen only as a place to problems."

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