The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has accused Rwanda of supporting the resurgence of M23 rebels, a development that has renewed long-standing tensions between the neighbouring countries.
Unfortunately, the impasse is not only a foreign policy one, as it is already affecting businesses. Over the weekend, RwandAir had to cancel planned flights to the DRC after Kinshasa announced that the carrier was banned from its airspace.
“RwandAir has decided to cancel all flights to Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Goma with immediate effect. We are sorry for the inconvenience and disruption this may cause to our customers and we will waive change of reservation fees and offer re-issues or refunds for those affected,” the national airline announced via Twitter.
Rwanda’s Ambassador to the DRC was also summoned by the DRC for talks regarding the situation. Earlier, a spokesperson to the Congolese Government issued a stern warning to Rwanda, asking the land-locked country to desist from sponsoring the M23 rebels who are fighting Congolese soldiers in North Kivu.
Meanwhile, Rwanda has vehemently denied the accusation. Instead, the country counter-accused its neighbour of supporting rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) who allegedly kidnapped two Rwandan soldiers recently while they were on border patrol.
In a statement seen by Aljazeera, the Rwandan Defence Force urged “authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo that work closely with these genocidal armed groups to secure the release of the RDF soldiers.”
In the meantime, the escalating tension has raised concerns among stakeholders. African Union Chairman and Senegalese President, Macky Sall, tweeted this in reaction to the situation:
“I am seriously concerned by the rising tension between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I call for calm and dialogue between the two countries, and for the peaceful resolution of the crisis with the support of regional mechanisms and the African Union.”
Do note that both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have long had a strained relationship.