Diplomats and heads of foreign missions in Rwanda have welcomed the renewal of relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
They were speaking ahead of the proposed meeting between President Paul Kagame and his DRC counterpart, Joseph Kabila scheduled for today.
The meeting comes after the two countries restored full diplomatic relations after a decade of sour relations.
British Ambassador to Kigali, Nicholas Cannon described the move as a “positive step” that would bring lasting peace to the region.
“The current relations between the two countries is a positive development, we hope it continues like this in the future.”
Stuart Symington, the US Ambassador to Rwanda said “the partnership between Rwanda and DRC is strongly positive and essential to the peace and development, benefiting Rwanda, DRC, Africa and the world.”
The US backed the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission, a regional platform that aimed at eliminating the security threat posed to the Great Lakes region by continuing activity of illegal armed groups in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The initiative brought together the nations of Rwanda, DRC, Uganda and Burundi with the US government being facilitators.
South African Ambassador to Rwanda, Gladstone Dumisani Gwadiso, whose country played a pivotal role in the 2002 Pretoria agreement that saw Rwandan troops pull out of DRC, said the on-going dialogue signaled “hope for a better future.”
“If this is leading to peace in the region, then we definitely support it. I wish this could lead to better relations. As long as there are dialogues, then it gives hope for a better future,” said Gwadiso.
The July 30, Pretoria agreement between Rwanda and DRC called for withdrawal of Rwandan troops from the DRC with the latter promising to disarm and dismantle members of the FDLR militia outfit operating on the territory of DRC.
Rwandan troops were immediately withdrawn from the Congo, a month after the agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
On his part the Ugandan Ambassador to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero, who is also the dean of diplomats accredited to Kigali, said that the current stride in improved relations between Rwanda and the DRC was a good gesture of peace in the region.
“This is a good gesture towards achieving regional peace,” Ambassador Kabonero told The New Times.
In January, DRC and Rwanda carried out joint operations to dismantle strongholds of the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) inside DRC s.
The operation dubbed “Umoja wetu” (Our Unity) lasted for one month and saw hundreds of FDRL militia, along with their families surrender and return to Rwanda.
Last month, both countries appointed ambassadors to the respective capitals. Norbert Nkulu Kilombo Mitumba will represent DRC in Kigali while Amandin Rugira is Rwanda's new envoy to Kinshasa.