Spread the love

Faith Nyasuguta 

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in Rwanda and DRC this coming week to aid amends in ties between the two neighbours, who had a public spat in July over the fanning of rebels.

However, the top envoy will first tour Cambodia and the Philippines and grace a ministerial gathering of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) before arriving in the continent via South Africa.

An itinerary provided to the media shows that Mr Blinken would be in from August 9 to 10, from where he will head straight to Rwanda.

According to Blinken, his trip to the continent would include a push to have Rwanda and DR Congo iron out their differences. Further, it will include discussions on “the effects of climate change, food insecurity and global pandemics, or shaping the technological and economic future.”

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi /CGTN/

In recent days, DRC has been criticised by environmental watchdogs after it auctioned 30 oil and gas blocks in an area considered crucial for conservation. Read here.

According to Greenpeace, “this would be an unmitigated disaster for the climate, biodiversity and local people.”

The relationship between Rwanda and DRC recently thawed following a high-level visit by the Rwandan Prime Minister to Kinshasa last week

However, trade agreements between them remain suspended by Kinshasa, which accused its neighbour of supporting the M23 rebels in North Kivu, claims Kigali distanced themselves from.

“They [DRC] have been behaving like spoiled children. They cause trouble and then, in the end, they start crying or shouting and saying somebody is doing something wrong to them,” President Kagame said during an interview with France 24, a French news outlet.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame /Wikipedia/

He added that it is surprising that some parts of the world have taken the side of DRC even when it is in the wrong.

The top envoy seeks to raise this thorny issue with the Rwandan leadership, following concerns raised by US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Robert Menendez in a letter sent to him on July 20.

According to Menendez as shown in a letter, both Rwanda and Uganda have a role in the DR Congo conflict.

Additionally, the US Secretary of State will discuss democracy and human rights issues, including transnational repression, limiting space for dissent and political opposition, and the jailing of US permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina that American officials have deemed “wrongful”. 

His trial became controversial as the United States, European Commission, and human rights organisations condemned the trial and called for his release.

Paul Rusesabagina /The Famous People/

Despite the bumps in human rights issues, the US allocated over $147 million in foreign assistance to Rwanda in 2021, making it the nation’s largest bilateral donor.

In 2013, the US blocked military aid to Rwanda, alleging it supported the M23 Congolese rebels.

John Ruku Rwabyoma, a member of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security in Rwanda, said that the US Secretary of State needs to come and investigate the truth himself.

“About DRC’s allegations, Rwanda will not bend because the truth is out there for everyone to see. Their allegations have no grounds. Posing sanctions against Rwanda would be simply wrong, but we have been there before, and the truth will always prevail,” Mr Rwabyoma said.

US Secretary of State /Antony Blinken /

On Rusesabagina’s case, the legislator said that it is ironic that the US has advocated for his release, yet its Federal Bureau of Investigation, he claimed, contributed to acquiring evidence that incriminated the ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero.

Blinken’s tour will be his second visit to Africa after visiting Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal in November 2021.

About Author

Faith Nyasuguta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *