Belgium calls on Rwanda to withdraw troops and stop supporting M23

Belgium's Foreign minister on Thursday condemned the violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and called on Rwanda to withdraw its troops from Congolese territory and stop supporting M23.

In an ongoing campaign in eastern DRC, the M23 rebel group has taken over the town of Nyanzale, Reuters reported on Wednesday. UN experts say the Tutsi-led rebel group is backed by Rwanda, a charge the country denies.

"I denounce and condemn the ongoing violence in the east of the DRC and its impact on civilians, such as around Nyanzale," Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib said on X. 

"We call on the M23 to cease hostilities and on Rwanda to end all support for the M23. Rwandan forces must withdraw from the DRC," she said.

On Monday, fifteen to eighteen civilians were killed in violent combat in the Nyanzale area and thousands fled in the face of an offensive by M23, UN radio Okapi reported on Tuesday, citing local sources.

On Monday, the European Union condemned "Rwanda's support for M23" and called on Kigali to "immediately withdraw all its military personnel from the DRC". 

The EU also urged the DRC to terminate all support to the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda, a predominantly Hutu group founded by former leaders of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.


Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib and DRC president Felix Tshisekedi during a diplomatic meeting in Kinshasa, DRC, in February 2023 © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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