Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday accused Rwanda of direct aggression, renewing the charges as he addressed the United Nations.
“Despite my good will and the outstretched hand for peace of the Congolese people, some of our neighbors find no other way to thank us than to support the armed groups in the east of the DRC,” Tshisekedi said in a speech. before the General Assembly.
“This is currently the case for Rwanda which, in defiance of international law and the UN Charter… once again committed aggression in March with direct incursions by its armed forces into the DRC,” he said.
Tshisekedi said Rwanda has provided “massive support in terms of both war material and troops” to M23, which has been increasingly active in the eastern border areas, calling it a “terrorist group.”
He accused the Rwandan army of supporting M23 in the downing of a UN peacekeeping helicopter in March, in which eight people were killed: six Pakistanis, one Russian and one Serb.
The group has previously denied the charge and the United Nations has stopped short of blaming the rebels, while expressing alarm at the group’s resurgence.
“The participation and responsibility of Rwanda is no longer debatable in the tragedy that my nation and my compatriots are experiencing in the areas occupied by the Rwandan army and its M23 allies,” he said.
The eastern stretch of the vast nation has been beset by violence for nearly 30 years with numerous armed groups active.
The M23, a Tutsi-majority force that had been defeated in 2013, took up arms again late last year, accusing the Kinshasa government of not respecting an agreement on the demobilization and reintegration of combatants.
A UN report seen last month by AFP found that the Rwandan army intervened against Congolese positions from November to June.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a visit to Kinshasa in August, also said there were “credible” reports of Rwandan involvement.
Rwanda, where memories of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis are still vivid, has denied the charges and vowed to defend its territory.
President Paul Kagame is scheduled to speak at the United Nations on Wednesday.