Congo’s president and Blinken discuss escalating tensions with Rwanda

Congo’s president and Blinken discuss escalating tensions with Rwanda

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday (9 August), is expected to raise concerns about tensions with neighboring Rwanda that could spread instability in the region and also about Russia and China’s access to rare earth minerals in the central-west Africa country.

Blinken’s trip to Congo follows a recent visit by his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Analysts say the Cold War rivals are vying for influence in the country, which is marred with violence and conflict in its east because of the region’s rare minerals.

“The strategic resources, minerals and other critical ones that are used for industrial development as well as weaponry and technology, and Congo is extremely rich in these things so whoever can deny those things to other people becomes very powerful,” according to Macharia Munene, an expert on international relations.

The top priority during Blinken’s two-day stay in Congo is pushing for peace between Congo and Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of backing militia groups. Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi plans to raise the issue with Blinken, the Congolese presidency has said. Tshisekedi “will not fail to discuss issues of strategic partnership between the DRC and the United States,” said the Congolese presidency in a statement. “The latest UN experts’ report on the invasion of Rwandan troops transformed into the M23 will not fail to be addressed,” it added. The M23 — or March 23 Movement — is a former Tutsi-dominated rebellion that was defeated in 2013 and took up arms again late in 2021, blaming Kinshasa for failing to respect agreements on the demobilization and reintegration of its fighters.

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