Gov’t of Rwanda has canceled its flights to DRC Congo following multiple accusations of supporting deadly M23 rebel group.
In a statement seen by this site, the carrier says it has canceled all its flights to Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Goma with immediate effect. This comes few days after Congo government announced decision to suspend Kigali flights.
Carrier’s statement states, “We are sorry for the inconvenience and disruption this may cause to our customers and we will waive change of reservation fees and offer reissues or refunds for those affected. We will provide updates when we have them and be in touch with our customers to provide assistance where we can.”
The continued improvement in relations between DRC and Rwanda since President Felix Tshisekedi came to power, had increasingly opened up the Congolese frontier to RwandAir.
Multiple Accusations Of Supporting M23 Rebels
The suspension of flights comes just two days after the Democratic Republic of Congo accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel group, which the latter denied Thursday as the Congolese army clashed with the militia in the east of the vast country.
Fighting with the rebel group erupted on several fronts this week in North Kivu, a conflict-torn eastern province of DRC, which borders Rwanda.
“Suspicions are crystallising that the M23 has received support from Rwanda,” Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya stated on Wednesday evening, after a crisis meeting with the prime minister.
Primarily a Congolese Tutsi group, M23 is one of more than 120 armed groups that roam eastern DRC.
It briefly captured North Kivu’s provincial capital Goma in late 2012, before the army quelled the rebellion the following year.
But M23 resumed fighting this year, accusing the Congolese government of failing to respect a 2009 agreement under which its fighters were to be incorporated into the army.
Foreign Affairs Minister Christophe Lutundula also accused Rwanda of backing the M23 and said the militia had attacked Rumangabo army camp, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Goma.
“This is the height of brazenness, we cannot remain indifferent, we cannot say nothing,” he told delegates at an African Union meeting in Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.
But Rwanda has denied involvement. Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said the country has “no intention of being drawn into an internal matter of the DRC”.
DRC and Rwanda have had a strained relationship since the mass arrival in the republic of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
Kinshasa has regularly accused Rwanda of carrying out incursions into its territory and of backing armed groups there.
Relations had begun to thaw after DRC President Felix Tshisekedi took office in 2019, but the recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited tensions.