RWANDA has responded to regional criticism about its military deployment along the frontier with the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo saying its territory had been repeatedly hit by cross-border shelling.
"Rwanda did not deploy along the border for the sake of
it. During a 10-day period our country was shelled 34 times," Rwanda’s
ambassador to South Africa, Vincent Karega, told BDlive on Monday.
was an invitation for Rwanda to intervene," he said, suggesting that
the stray shelling was not accidental but a ploy to try to suck Rwanda
into the continuing conflict. It pits Congolese troops, supported by
United Nations (UN) "peace enforcers", against the Rwandan-backed
Congolese rebels called M23.
Rwanda first complained about the
shelling during August’s intense fighting in areas north of the eastern
Congo city of Goma. The M23 rebels were forced to retreat and there have
been no reports of cross-border incursions by Rwanda’s army, one of
But Rwanda was criticised at a special summit of
the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in Windhoek last
Wednesday. Rwanda is not a Sadc member.
"(The) summit expressed
concern at the deployment of Rwandan troops along the common border with
the DRC and also expressed the hope that Rwanda is not contemplating to
invade the DRC, for that will complicate the already delicate
situation," a communiqué after the one-day meeting said.
summit of Sadc’s troika — Namibia, Lesotho and Tanzania — was also
attended by the Congo, Malawi and South Africa, the communiqué said. It
was issued 48 hours after the summit, accounting for the scant publicity
which the meeting attracted.
The leaders praised the efforts of
the 3,000-strong UN force in the Congo, the UN Organisation
Stabilisation Mission (Monusco), which is supporting the government army
against the M23 rebels.
The brigade has a contingent of 1,345
troops from the South African National Defence Force, three of whom were
lightly wounded in August, and units from Tanzania and Malawi.
brigade’s aggressive mandate, agreed by the UN Security Council in
March and extended to other Monusco units, is to clear all "negative
forces" from the eastern Congo.
The goal is to put an end to the
chronic instability and attacks on civilians that have continued since
the 1994 genocide in Rwanda when up to 1-million people, mostly minority
Tutsi, were put to death by majority Hutu extremists.
concerned the target is only the M23, while the Democratic Forces for
the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) — exiled remnants of the former
government army in Rwanda that helped to commit the genocide — are being
"Up to now it is only one group that is targeted. If the FDLR does not feel targeted, it will be dangerous," Mr Karega said.