DRC crisis: Felix Tshisekedi meets Paul Kagame in Bujumbura
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi on Saturday met with Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame for the first time this year as tensions between the two countries soared.
The context of their meeting in Bujumbura was an Extraordinary Summit of the East African Community, which was convened by Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye to assess the security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and also evaluate the Luanda roadmap for the search for peace in the DRC.
President Ndayishimiye is the chair of the EAC Summit of heads of state. But even he may punch the air for ensuring the two leaders who have bickered in the past, in public, attended in person rather than send representatives.
The meeting was convened to examine how to achieve de-escalation in the war between the FARDC (Congolese Army) and the M23 rebels. The Luanda roadmap, which was signed on November 23 in the Angolan capital, demanded the withdrawal of the M23 rebels from all occupied areas by 15 January 2023.
More than two weeks after the end of the ultimatum, the rebels have not withdrawn, but they have moved into other areas.
According to the communication office of the Congolese President in Bujumbura, Félix Tshisekedi will make his counterparts note that the Luanda roadmap has not been respected.
"The Heads of State of the East African Community must therefore note this failure and draw the obvious consequences for an adaptation of the mandate of the regional force by making it more offensive," said the communication office of President Tshisekedi.
The Bujumbura summit is also expected to discuss the tense relationship between the DRC and Rwanda after Kigali fired missiles at a Congolese plane in January.
The situation is such that the DRC has repatriated Rwandan officers involved in the East African regional force.
According to Congolese army spokesman General Sylvain Ekenge, "For security reasons, the DRC has instructed the commander of the East African regional force to repatriate the Rwandan officers who are members of the force's headquarters based in Goma.
Following this decision, Rwanda recalled all its officers from all regional mechanisms based in the DRC.
The DRC's position on the Rwandan officers led the East African community to write to the Congolese Foreign minister. On Wednesday 1 February, Peter Mathuki, Secretary General of the East African Community asked the Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs to give "urgent clarification on the repatriation of the Rwandan officers".