Luanda, Nov 24 (AP) A fresh summit hosted by Angola aimed at ending armed clashes in eastern Congo went ahead Wednesday without Rwanda’s president and the rebels whose rapid advance has sharply escalated tensions between the two countries.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame instead sent his foreign affairs minister to the Angolan capital Luanda.
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The presidents of Congo, Angola and Burundi were joined by former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in the renewed peace effort.
However, the M23 rebel group showed no sign of backing down, instead issuing a statement accusing the Congolese military of rounding up citizens of Tutsi descent in preparation for an “imminent genocide.”
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Spokesman Lawrence Kanyuka claimed Congolese citizens of Tutsi origin were being asked to gather in certain places or risk being treated as rebels. Kanyuka offered no evidence backing up his claim.
“The M23 reiterates its undertaken commitment to a direct dialogue with the DRC Government in order to peacefully resolve the ongoing conflict,” he said.
“However, it shall not standby and witness the slaughtering of a group of Congolese citizens.”
There was no immediate comment from the Congolese military on the M23 allegations but a Congolese government spokesman again voiced opposition to the rebels joining peace talks.
“Rwanda is the spokesperson for the M23,” Patrick Muyaya said, a claim Rwanda denies.
The M23 rose to prominence a decade ago when its fighters seized Goma, the largest city in Congo’s east, which sits along the border with Rwanda.
After a peace deal, many of M23’s fighters were integrated into the national military.
Then the group re-emerged last November, saying the government had failed to live up to its decade-long promises. By June, M23 had seized the strategic town of Bunagana near the border with Uganda.
M23 has been a sticking point in deteriorating relations between Congo and Rwanda.
Many of the rebel fighters are Congolese ethnic Tutsis and Rwanda’s president is of Rwandan Tutsi descent.
In August, a report by UN experts said they had “solid evidence” that members of Rwanda’s armed forces were conducting operations in eastern Congo in support of the M23 rebel group.
Rwanda, though, has repeatedly denied the allegations and has accused Congolese forces of carrying out cross-border shelling. (AP)
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