M23 rebels have condemned massive street protests that are targeting Kinyarwanda-speaking people in the city of Goma, Rutshuru territory inside the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thousands of civilians have been protesting since Wednesday against Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels and to show support for the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Civilians carrying a coffin bearing an effigy of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and others carrying placards with President Yoweri Museveni’s picture encircled with an X attempted to cross to Rwanda through the border of Rubavu while pelting stones at Rwandan police officers.
The protesters pillaged Rwandan-owned shops in a commercial district in Goma.
Some also stopped and searched vehicles for Rwandans many of whom escaped across the border during the chaos.
But M23 spokesperson Major Willy Ngoma condemned the protests saying that Congo should not be at that level of ethnic discrimination and xenophobia.
Ngoma says that civilians and the government should be concerned about their nationals who are seeking refuge in Uganda and forge ways of stabilizing the country so that they all return and live happily.
He was addressing the media on the Congolese side of the Bunagana border,
Ngoma wondered how government police and soldiers could protect protestors instead of advising them about the dangers of ethnic divisionism and xenophobia.
He says that M23 will never support any person to harm another on the basis of ethnic differences.
Meanwhile, a FARDC soldier was shot dead by Rwandan National Police (RNP) officers while protesting on Rwandan soil.
The incident happened at the Congo-Rwanda border of Petite Barrière in the Rubavu district. on Friday
The deceased, whose identities are not yet known, was donning a full FARDC military attire, according to sources in Rwanda.
They indicate that the soldier crossed the border into the Rwandan side and started shooting.
Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) said in a statement that the Congolese soldier shot several times and injured two Rwandan police officers who were on official duty.
According to RDF, another Rwandan National Police Officer shot back in self-defence, to protect civilians and border agents who were operating at the same scene about 25 meters inside Rwandan soil.
After the body was repatriated to Congo, thousands of DRC nationals matched within the town of Goma chanting and praising the deceased soldier as a hero and patriot.
Traffic remains suspended at the border between the DRC and Rwanda, following the march organized in Goma.
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) through their spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Frederic Harvey this week said in a statement that, “it has no factual confirmation,” rendering the claims as mere rumours.
On June 10, May 23, and March 19 this year artillery rockets were fired from DR Congo into Rwanda’s Districts of Musanze and Burera, resulting in several serious injuries to Rwandan citizens and damaged property.
On May 28, two Rwandan soldiers were arrested by DR Congo soldiers where Rwanda claimed that they were kidnapped while on patrol along the border but DR Congo argued that they had crossed to help M23 rebels.
They were later released following mediation by Angolan President, João Lourenço.
Although the DRC government claims that Rwanda supports M23 rebels, Rwanda has always rejected the accusations referring to the conflict as an internal problem of the DRC government.