The Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring Rwanda have traded verbal blows during a United Nations Security Council meeting aimed at securing peace in eastern Congo.
On Thursday, the Rwandan ambassador to the UN said Congo is “crying like small babies,” while his Congolese counterpart stated that Rwanda’s “arrogant behavior must stop.”
Congo and Rwanda have fought two wars in two decades in eastern Congo. The UN and Kinshasa have repeatedly accused Rwanda of helping the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in Congo. Rwanda has always denied the charges that it is backing the M23, but Kigali has never publicly condemned the militia.
“These guys (Congo), just every other day, coming and crying like small babies,” Rwanda’s Eugene Gasana told reporters after the Security Council meeting. “Rwanda, it’s a small country. Congo is rich. Congo has everything. How come Rwanda is always the scapegoat?”
Ignace Gata Mavita wa Lufuta, whose country is a temporary member of the Security Council, told the 15-member body, “We are a sovereign country and we must be respected as such and this arrogant behavior (by Rwanda) must stop.”
Meanwhile, the Security Council expressed its concerns about the violence in eastern Congo, saying that M23 rebels must be stopped from regrouping.
The M23 rebels, who defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment, laid down their arms in November last year after their military defeat.
On November 5, 2013, the Congolese government claimed “total victory” over the M23 after capturing the group’s remaining hilltop positions north of the eastern city of Goma with the assistance of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
On January 13, UN Special Representative in Congo Martin Kobler said there can be “no roll back on what has been achieved so far” and called on “the governments of Uganda and Rwanda to do everything possible to prevent M23 elements from sheltering or training troops on their territory.”
Kinshasa and the UN have said that the M23 rebels were trained in Rwanda and Uganda, which both countries deny.
The eastern Congo has experienced interminable cycles of violence since 1998.
The war in the Congo has dragged on for over a decade and left over 5.5 million people dead.