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DR Congo’s President Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda is backing M23 rebels

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The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, on Sunday, accused the government of Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels in the country.

Tshisekedi made the accusation in Congo-Brazzavile during a state visit to DRC’s western neighbours where he held talks with President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

He accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels who have been involved in a series of clashes with the army since the end of May, leading to several deaths of civilians, an allegations Kigali has denied several times.

In his first public comments on the growing crisis between the two countries which has led to accusations and counter accusations from both Kinshasa and Kigali, Tshisekedi insisted that the M23 rebels who are now active in the Eastern part of the country near the border with Rwanda, are being trained by the Rwandan army.

Tshisekedi insisted that it was “very obvious” the rebellion in his country was being fuelled by the support the militia is getting from Kigali which has truncated every effort to find a peaceful solution to lingering crisis.

“I have always maintained that you have to build bridges rather than walls,” said Tshisekedi.

“Unfortunately, today, we are where we are. That does not constitute an opportunity for neighbours to come and provoke us.

“DR Congo’s neighbours should not mistake our desire for peace with weakness. I hope that Rwanda has learned this lesson, because, today, it’s clear, there is no doubt, Rwanda has supported the M23 to come and attack the DRC,” he added.

The allegations that Kigali was backing the M23 rebels led to the DRC suspending flights of Rwandan airline, RwandAir, as well as summoning Rwanda’s ambassador to warn him of the country’s position last week as the tension between the two countries continues to build up.

Relations between the DRC and Rwanda have been strained since the 1994 Rwandan genocide where the Hutus slaughtered thousands of Tutsis with allegations that the Hutus were being aided by the Rwandan government.

The relationship had began to thaw after Tshisekedi came into power in 2019 but the recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited regional tensions.

The militia group were driven out of the DRC after it briefly captured the Goma province in 2012 before the army crushed their rebellion but in late 2021, the group reentered the country from their base in Rwanda, fuelling speculations that they have the backing of Kigali.

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Nigeria: Zamfara state government wants gun licenses for residents over insecurity

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The Commissioner for information in one of Nigeria’s Northern states, Zamfara state says residents in the state can start approaching the police command in the state for gun licences.

The troubled state wants individuals to carry guns to defend themselves against armed gangs of kidnappers causing havoc in the country’s northwest.

The commissioner, Ibrahim Magaji Dosara in statement said the state governor had directed the state police commissioner to issue 500 gun licences in each of the 19 emirates in the state to those wishing to defend themselves.

“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers to secure basic weapons for defending themselves,” Dosara said.

The state also banned the use of motorcyles and selling of petrol in three districts and one emirate, in areas which are the most affected by banditry, Dosara said. The state is divided into emirates and the emirates into districts.

“Anybody found riding motorbike within the areas is considered as bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight,” said Dosara.

Gunmen, locally called bandits, have been attacking and killing thousands of people in the country’s North-west since 2017. These assailants have attacked rural dwellers, destroyed their farmlands and in many cases only allow them to the farm after they have paid protection fees. They have also targeted travellers across the region in what some analysts say is one of the most lucrative kidnap-for-ransom syndicates in the continent.

Owning a gun in Zamfara needs permission from the state governor and state police commissioner.

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Ex-Liberian rebel warlord charged in US over attempt to obtain citizenship fraudulently

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A former commanding general of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), a notorious rebel group during the West African country’s civil war, Moses Wright, who had sought asylum in the US has been charged with fraudulently attempting to obtain US citizenship, among other crimes.

According to the United States Justice Department, the 69-year-old Wright lied about his involvement in the persecuting and killing of non-combatants during the war when he applied for US citizenship.

If convicted, Wright faces a maximum possible sentence of 165 years in prison and a $7m (£5.7m) fine, according to the JD.

“The United States will not be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” the United States Attorney, Jacqueline C. Romero, said on the indictment of Wright.

The indictment of Wright comes after two other former combatants in Liberia’s civil war, Mohammed Jabbateh and Thomas Woewiyu, were convicted in the US for similar offences while a third rebel leader, Sekou Kamara, was arrested earlier this year in New York.

The AFL was responsible for death of an estimated 250,000 Liberians which amounted to around 8% of the population at the time, in the war which started from 1989 to 1997 and in 1999 to 2003, according to a report by the Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in late 2021, which described the AFL as a “significant violator group found to be behind some of the civil war’s largest scale massacres.”

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