The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Information Minister has rejected demands by the M23 rebel group that President Joseph Kabila resigns before any peace negotiations could proceed.
“Nobody proposed to those killers any negotiations, nobody. We have asked for an evaluation of the whole process of this peace agreement of 2009, in order to bring evidence that there is no reason at all for anybody to rebel and be killing our people,” said Lambert Mende.
“This is also to bring evidence this is only a way of hiding what Rwandese are doing to help [the] killers in order to bring in confusion in Congo…this is a fictitious group that is instrumentalized by the Rwandans…nobody is negotiating with them, so I don’t see why they can put in conditions to negotiate with who?”
The United States cut its military aid to Rwanda citing concerns that Kigali is supporting rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The US State Department said Saturday it had evidence that Rwanda is helping Congolese rebel groups, including M23. It said it will withhold $200,000 of aid pledged to help a military training agency.
But, Rwanda has repeatedly denied arming or supporting the notorious M23 rebels allegedly loyal to Bosco Ntaganda, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes abuses.
“This denial is not credible,” said Mende. “We have a lot of evidence…that have been brought forward by this team of the United Nations, as well as NGO’s like Human Rights Watch…We call on this neighbor to withdraw from Congolese affairs. We want them to stop feeding these criminal elements. We want them to stop recruiting combatants for those criminal elements.”
Mende said Rwanda will soon come under increasing international pressure following what he said is the evidence that implicates Rwanda’s complicity.
The Security Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday on the matter. The world body tasked its peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, with protecting unarmed civilians from attacks from insurgent rebel groups in the country.
Mende said his administration has petitioned the Security Council to amend MONUSCO’s mandate to help defeat armed groups in the restive northeastern part of the country.
“They have received our file [and] we are requesting that this mandate be changed as quickly as possible, so that we stop the killing of people and we stop the looting of our country. That is very important for us.”
Mende said Kinshasa will not negotiate with those he calls killers of Congolese citizens.
“We are facing a mafia group organized in Rwanda…that allows them to loot our resources. It is those [people] who need to be stopped.”