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Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo Make for Very Unhappy Neighbours

Both sides claim the other is set on bringing down their government and violating past agreements and international norms. Rwanda accuses the DRC of working with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda or FDLR. The rebel group’s stated aim is to overthrow the Rwandan government. For its part, the DRC accuses Rwanda of violating its sovereignty by supporting the March 23 Movement or M23. The rebel group, along with multiple others, is active in the DRC. A recent United Nations report supports Kinshasa’s contention. The group of experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo detailed its accusations in a 131-page report. Kigali, however, dismissed the findings as “false allegations”. Tensions between the two nations date back to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda when an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Many of the perpetrators of the violence fled to the DRC, at the time called Zaire. The post-genocide Rwandan government launched military operations in a bid to force the perpetrators back home to face justice. Rwanda believes the DRC continues to provide refuge for those behind the 1994 attack. The two countries have gone through two major wars and multiple skirmishes. They have also had periods of stability and trade growth. The latest tensions, however, are cause for concern. They risk destabilising the Eastern Africa region, disrupting trade routes and allowing for the establishment of opportunistic militia groups.