President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi have held a phone conversation through their Senegalese counterpart, with an aim to resolve the current impasse in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The encouraging development was revealed by the Chairperson of the Africa Union, Senegal President MackySall, on Monday, May 30, when he tweeted thanking both leaders for our telephone conversations yesterday and today in the quest for a peaceful solution to the dispute between the DR Congo and Rwanda. Sall noted that he is encouraging Angolan President João Lourenço, who is the current Chairperson of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to continue his mediation efforts in this direction. Je remercie les Pdts Tshisekedi et Kagame pour nos entretiens téléphoniques d’hier et aujourd’hui dans la quête d’une solution pacifique du différend entre la RDC et le Rwanda. J’encourage le Pdt Lourenço, Pdt de la CIGL à poursuivre ses efforts de médiation dans ce sens. — Macky Sall (@Macky_Sall) May 30, 2022 A day earlier, on May 29, Sall called for dialogue betweenKigali and Kinshasa as tensions escalated between the two neighbours following the resurgence of the M23 rebellion in the DR Congo’s restive east. Increasing tension between the DR Congo army (FARDC) and M23 rebels near the common border is threatening to drag Rwanda into the conflict. The AU Chairpersons plea for dialogue came after, among others, recent cross-border shelling on Rwandan territory. On May 23, rockets from the Congolese side of the border, injured several people in at least two sectors in Musanze district, in Rwanda. The Congolese army and the terrorist FDLR militia, according to Kigali, also kidnapped two Rwandan soldiers who were patrolling along the common border. Kigalirequested DR Congo authorities to release the two Rwandan soldiers. Kigali has stressed that it has no intention of being drawn into an intra-Congolese matter, but Kinshasa claims that the M23 rebels are supported by Kigali. While in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, attending an extraordinary Summit on countering terrorism and unconstitutional change of government in Africa, Dr Vincent Biruta, Rwandas Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Saturday, May 28, appealed to the DR Congo to observe good neighborliness, own up to her problems, and avoid apportioning blame where none exists. While responding to the “baseless accusations” made by Kinshasa against Rwanda, Dr Biruta said there are several initiatives in place to address the existing problems, but without political will, “we will remain in a vicious cycle of undesirable and destructive conflicts.” In Malabo, Dr Biruta stressed that for close to 30 years now, there has been consistent collaboration between the FARDC and the Rwandan FDLR armed group based in eastern DRCongo. It is deplorable that the FDLR, “which harbors a long-term sinister plan to destabilize Rwanda,” has been tolerated and preserved by the DR Congo, he said. “Over the years, they have sanitized this genocidal armed group, to the extent that the FDLR are currently co-located, and fighting alongside the FARDC,” Dr Biruta said. “Rwanda wishes to reiterate that the FDLR and its various splinter groups pose a serious security threat, not only to Rwanda, but to the entire region.” The FDLR comprises remnants of the perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. After killing more than one million people 28 years ago, they fled into eastern DR Congo. ICGLR awaits verification mission report On May 27, the ICGLR Secretariat expressed great concern about the attacks of the the ex-M23 rebels against the positions of the FARDC supported by MONUSCO in the territory of Rutshuru, North Kivu since the beginning of the week. The bloc’s Secretariat strongly condemned the attacks and called on the ex-M23 rebels to comply with the Nairobi Declaration signed in December 2013 and to participate unconditionally in the political process initiated by the regional Conclave of Heads of State on the DR Congo in Nairobi, Kenya on April 21. While condemning the existence of all armed groups operating in the eastern DR Congo, the Conference Secretariat “awaits the conclusions of the report of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) which deployed a Joint Verification Team (JVT) on the ground” since May 24, in order to refer the matter to the decision-making bodies of ICGLR. Over the past weekend, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Vincent Biruta, reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to the established regional initiatives, including the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism of the ICGLR and the Nairobi process under the EAC. The Nairobi Summit gave clear guidelines on how the issue of armed groups in eastern DRCongo can be resolved. The first Summit, or conclave, was held on April 8, after Tshisekedi signed the Treaty of accession by his country to the EAC. During the second conclave, Presidents Tshisekedi, Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, Kenyatta and YoweriMuseveni of Uganda, and Dr Biruta, agreed to the deployment of a regional force to contain armed groups in DR Congo. Mid-way through the inter-Congolese dialogue, there were signs of optimism that the more than 30 Congolese armed groups participating were dedicated to finding a long-lasting solution. But Kinshasa on Saturday said it considered the M23 as a terrorist movement that must be treated as such and is therefore excluded from the Nairobi peace process. Biruta said the Kinshasa has shown lack of political will to abide by the Nairobi Summit resolutions holistically. Instead, he said, they have been engaging with these armed groups selectively and, have been quick to blame Rwanda, in order to ignore their obligations.