By Prosper HERI NGORORA, 17 January 2024
Amid heavy tensions between DRC and Rwanda, an incident has been reported on border between both countries this Tuesday 16 January when Congolese soldiers have crossed Rwandan territory, raising questions in the region.
One Congolese soldier from FARDC has been shot dead on Tuesday 16 January, after crossing the Rwandan border in what Congolese authorities called “accidental”.
Two others have been captured according to Rwandan officials.
The Rwandan army statement says that it was morning, at 10 hours that RDF patrols supported by local neighborhood watch has proceed to arrest those elements from Congolese army.
“Three armed soldiers of Democratic Republic of Congo armed forces crossed the border from the DRC into Rwanda at Rubavu sector, Rukoko cell, Isangano village. The third soldier was shot dead when he fired at the patrols”, Rwandan officials revealed.
Nevertheless, Rwandan government doesn’t reveal circumstances the soldiers have crossed the border, accidentally or intentionally.
This raise questions in Congolese opinion, which believes this matter should be resolved peacefully between the two parties as crossing boarder accidentally has been repetitive.
“As for DRC, we forgive Rwandan soldiers who are founded accidentally beyond their borders in DRC, but they kill our soldier today. Both parties should look for a common ground in such events” says a civil society member in Nyiragongo territory, where the Congolese soldiers crossed borders.
The Congolese army FARDC says that the incident was an “accidental”, confirming the death of one of its defense forces.
Congolese army mourns its soldier, revealing that such incidents repeatedly occur to both parties, Rwandan and Congolese sides.
“The situation of Congolese or Rwandan soldiers lost or apprehended on Rwandan or Congolese territory is frequent. Each time, the joint verification mechanism has always been involved in contributing to their repatriation” underlines the Congolese army statement.
Incidents on Congolese-Rwandan borders are reported frequently over the last days, since Congolese and Rwandan government accuse each other of backing rebels, all sides denying those accusations.
The situation has increased tensions between these two neighboring countries, since M23 has begun offensives, taking over a large territory from Rutshuru till Masisi where fights are ongoing.
In June 2022, another Congolese soldier was killed and other two Rwandan policemen and civilian were injured in gunfire at Petite barrière border post, between Goma; DRC and Gisenyi, Rwanda.
DRC and Rwanda are both in quite a number of regional organizations which promote bilateral cooperation in many sectors as cross-border trade, security, economics and in many other initiatives aiming to achieve sustainable development goals.
Hubert MASOMEKO, a regional specialist reminds that there’s no development without peace and international cooperation.
Thus, he recommends a sustainable resolution of conflicts in the region so that DRC and Rwanda may move forward ahead, as the world is in a race to reaching 2030 agenda.
“Today, we witness a permanent tension between DRC and Rwanda. Tensions are not only linked with diplomacy but also linked with border issues. In order to reach sustainable development goals, I suggest DRC and Rwanda to dialogue” he argues.