A 72-hour ceasefire was agreed in the conflict between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda-backed rebel groups. The U.S.-negotiated ceasefire will bring a temporary halt to the violent clashes in the east of DRC that started up again in October, when an earlier truce collapsed. Almost 7 million people have been displaced as a result of violence in the eastern parts of DRC, according to the UN.
Tensions grow between the DRC and Rwanda
Tensions rose after Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi compared Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s autocratic leader, to Adolf Hitler. Tshisekedi, who is campaigning for reelection next week, vowed that Kagame would “end up” like the German dictator. Kinshasa accuses Kigali of backing the M23 rebel group in a bid to destabilize the eastern part of the DRC. The risk of a direct conflict between the DRC and Rwanda has escalated, a United Nations envoy warned on Monday.
Ceasefire comes with hope of renewed negotiations
But the brief pause in fighting has raised the possibility that the ceasefire will be extended indefinitely to allow negotiations between the DRC and the rebel groups to resume, the office of Uhuru Kenyatta, the lead negotiator of the Nairobi peace process in eastern DRC, wrote on X. While negotiations have continued in fits and starts since the process began a year ago, some experts have questioned whether the negotiations will lead to anything. So far, talks have led to “a flurry of resolutions with not enough follow through,” an analyst at a South African think tank said.
DRC kicks out peacekeeping forces
Peacekeeping forces from the UN and the East African Community are due to start withdrawing from the DRC this month. The East African forces have been asked to leave because of Tshisekedi’s frustration with their unwillingness to launch offensive operations against M23, according to Jenna Russo, an expert on peacekeeping operations in the DRC. UN forces are also withdrawing from the DRC after more than two decades in the country, following widespread dissatisfaction with the organization for failing to protect them from armed groups.