On the campaign trail in the troubled east of his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Félix Tshisekedi on Friday compared his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame to Adolf Hitler and his “expansionist aims”.
“I’m going to address Rwandan President Paul Kagame and tell him this: since he wanted to behave like Adolf Hitler by having expansionist aims (in the DRC), I promise to end up like Adolf Hitler,” declared Félix Tshisekedi, to applause from the crowd, at a rally in Bukavu, capital of South Kivu.
Along with North Kivu and Ituri, South Kivu is one of the eastern provinces of the DRC that has been plagued for almost 30 years by the violence of armed groups, many of them inherited from the wars that bloodied the region between 1990 and 2000.
Relations with neighboring Rwanda have been tense ever since, reaching a climax two years ago with the resurgence in North Kivu of the M23 (“March 23 Movement”) rebellion, which, supported by Kigali according to many sources, has seized large swathes of the province.
“When I took power as president of this country”, said Félix Tshisekedi, “I proposed a plan to live in peace with our neighbors, but the problem is that our neighbors have eyes bigger than their stomachs, and that’s the case with my colleague” Paul Kagame.
On numerous occasions, Félix Tshisekedi has denounced Rwandan “aggression” “under the guise of the M23”, accusing Rwanda, which he described a few months ago as a “horrible neighbor”, of wanting to monopolize the wealth, particularly mining, of eastern Congo.
“But this time, (Paul Kagame) has met a son of the country determined to protect his country against all kinds of foreign aggression”, said Félix Tshisekedi, whose remarks in French were translated into Swahili (a language spoken in eastern DRC and several East African countries), in front of thousands of people gathered in Bukavu’s Place de l’Indépendance.
In power since January 2019, Félix Tshisekedi is seeking a second term in the elections scheduled for December 20 in the DRC, and is multiplying his travels across the country. After South Kivu, he is scheduled to visit Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, this weekend.