Congolese President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi has dismissed claims of a purported plan to balkanise his country as a “distraction”.
He was addressing a gathering of Congolese Diaspora community in the United Kingdom on Sunday.
Balkanisation is the process of division of a region or country into smaller parts.
The Congolese leader was in London to attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit that started Monday.
Tshisekedi’s remarks follow allegations, by, among others, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, who recently said that the climate in the east of the neighbouring country – characterised by insecurity – was fuelled by a desire and goal to balkanise “our country.”
But President Tshisekedi rejected these claims.
“I would like to start with a topic that is getting a lot of attention these days and I solemnly swear that, as long as I am the President of the Republic, no single square centimetre of this country will be yielded to anyone whatsoever,” he said.
He added: “So this subject of balkanisation is a distraction. We fought in the opposition to establish democracy and to ensure that the Congolese regain their rights, No, no and no; this Congo that I lead will never be balkanised.”
Claims of a ploy to balkanise the Congo have largely been peddled by members of the country’s opposition and Catholic clergy, which observers have blamed on an attempt to under the new president and fuel resentment against regional countries.
The sensational claims surfaced in the wake of successive battlefield victories by the Congolese army, FARDC, against a myriad of militia groups in eastern DR Congo – some from neighbouring countries, including Rwanda – some of which had occupied swathes of territories for decades.
Tshisekedi has vowed to deal with the problem of insecurity in his country, especially in the east where militias have wreaked havoc.
For about a year now, Congolese army has sustained offensive against Rwandan and other armed groups in the east – many, including senior commanders, losing their lives in the process, while hundreds others have been captured and repatriated.
One of the main armed groups operating in the region is FDLR, an offshoot of extremist groups and army that crossed into DR Congo from Rwanda after executing the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. More than a million people lost their lives in the killings.
Other armed Rwandan groups include RNC and FLN, led by fugitives and exiled politicians namely Kayumba Nyamwasa (South Africa), and Paul Rusesabagina and Faustin Twagiramungu (both in Belgium), respectively.
The latest such repatriations came late last year when the Congolese government handed over to Rwanda hundreds of militia fighters from one of the anti-Kigali terror groups operating from eastern DR Congo.
More than 1,000 children as well as hundreds of women – dependants of the militia fighters – were also repatriated, and are now attending a rehabilitation programme before their reintegration into the community.
Officials in Kigali have also dismissed claims of attempted “balkanisation” of DR Congo and welcomed Kinshasa’s ongoing operations against negative groups on Congolese territory.