Félix Tshisekedi between fight against the M23 and internal infiltration

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Since the resurgence of the M23, this rebel movement supported by the Paul Kagame regime has continued to expand its areas of influence in the province of North Kivu, despite calls for a ceasefire from the international community and other subregional organizations.

Asked how to understand the lack of progress in Congolese military operations in the face of the progression of the M23, supported by the Rwandan army, President Félix Tshisekedi tries to put the situation into perspective by specifying that in certain areas “the enemy” also suffered enormous losses against the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said:

” It is necessary to relativize. This may be the case on certain axes, but on others we are pushing them back. And they counted many dead in their ranks. But this war prevents us from continuing the reforms of our army. The one I inherited was riddled with rebels who were integrated after the signing of agreements to resolve previous crises involving armed groups supported by Rwanda. This explains the real difficulties we have today. We must separate the wheat from the chaff. There are traitors in our army. Not just Rwandan speakers; there are also Congolese of other linguistic expressions. We are fighting today against both a visible enemy, Rwanda, and an invisible one, those who infiltrated our ranks,” he explained during an interview with our colleagues from the newspaper Le Monde published Saturday March 30, 2024.”

During the same interview, Félix Tshisekedi clarified that the instructor companies do not fight, but they are there to strengthen the capacities of the armed forces of the Republic.

“The difference is that mercenaries fight and get paid for it. While instructor companies build capacity on the ground. They happen to be in the theater of operations, but they do not fight,” underlined Félix Tshisekedi.”

Asked whether these companies also support and train the militias called “wazalendo”, allies of the Congolese army, Félix Tshisekedi answers:

“They have a contract with the Congolese state and are not there to train the wazalendo. [The latter] are compatriots from eastern DRC, who have decided to take up arms to defend their community. This does not date from my accession. At the time of their creation, the army did nothing to protect them. We must value and channel them. They are valiant warriors, but they have not undergone training. There can be atrocities, excesses,” he noted in his response.”

In his capacity as mediator appointed by the African Union, Angolan President Joao Lourenço is continuing discussions with Kinshasa and Kigali for a meeting between Félix Tshisekedi and Paul Kagame with a view to peacefully resolving the security crisis. Despite the goodwill of Kinshasa, the country of Félix Tshisekedi set a series of conditions, including the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from Congolese soil and the cantonment of M23 rebels and the liberation of occupied areas in the province of North Kivu.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, in its eastern part, faces activism from foreign and local armed groups. In the East, the situation has deteriorated further since the resurgence of the M23 rebels supported by Kigali. Since 2021, several parts of the North Kivu province have been under the control of these rebels. They want a direct dialogue with Kinshasa, a plan that the Tshisekedi administration rejects, wanting to dialogue directly with Kagame, whom it considers the godfather of the M23.

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