Relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda appeared to be deteriorating on Saturday after the DRC barred RwandAir from airspace.
Patrick Muyaya, spokesman for the Congolese government, announced that the DRC was the suspended flights “immediately”, adding that a “strong warning is being issued to the government of Rwanda” about its alleged involvement in the conflict in North Kivu in eastern DRC.
The Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels currently fighting government forces in North Kivu province. Rwanda denied any involvement.
Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said the country “has no intention of being drawn into any internal DRC affairs.”
The DRC called out Vincent Karega, the Rwandan, before Ambassador in Kinshasa on the rebel issue.
Mr Muyaya also announced that the M23 rebel group is now “considered a terrorist movement”. The M23 is therefore “excluded from the Nairobi discussion process” that called on armed groups to engage in dialogue with the government to find a solution to the armed conflict in eastern DRC.
Sources said Calm was restored in eastern DRC on Friday morning, even as the Congolese army announced it had pushed back the M23 rebels it was fighting in North Kivu.
The chief of staff of the Congolese Army General Celestin Mbala has been on duty in Goma, the largest city in North Kivu, since Friday to direct military operations.
The fighting in the region has killed more than 72,000 civilians, according to the United Nations forced to flee their villages.