Polish president criticised by DR Congo over cooperation with Rwanda

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has criticised Poland over its support for Rwanda expressed by Polish President Andrzej Duda during his recent trip to the African country.

The DRC ministry called Poland’s actions “two-faced” and argued that the recent visit is proof that Poland has allied itself with Rwanda despite previously supporting the DRC at the United Nations assembly in condemning Rwanda for its support for rebels fighting in parts of DRC.

Criticism of Poland’s president has come among anti-Western protests that have continued in DRC’s capital since last week. According to the Vatican news agency Fides, protesters targeted the diplomatic missions of the United States, Britain, France, and, after Duda visited Rwanda, Poland.

🗨 Prezydent @AndrzejDuda w Kigali: Rozmawialiśmy o kwestii bezpieczeństwa w naszych regionach.

Jeśli Rwanda będzie w niebezpieczeństwie, także będziemy jej nieść wsparcie. Dlatego tak dużo dziś też rozmawialiśmy o edukacji, również o tej wojskowej, aby Rwanda mogła poprzez… pic.twitter.com/xpwh1UUjC5

— Kancelaria Prezydenta (@prezydentpl) February 7, 2024

Last week, during his visit to Rwanda’s capital, Duda held talks with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame over strengthening economic relations, the global impact of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and cooperation in defence and education.

“If Rwanda is ever in danger, we will also support it,” said Duda and expressed the hope of developing defence industry cooperation between the two countries in the future.

“Poland is looking for reliable partners in African countries that share common values. We do not doubt that we find understanding and friends in Rwanda in this respect,” stressed Duda.

According to the Polish president’s official website, Duda’s trip to East Africa – where, alongside Rwanda, he visited Kenya and Tanzania – had two main goals: promoting Poland and Polish business and providing information on the situation in Europe related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Andrzej Duda is visiting Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal, the first time any Polish president has done so.

Talks with his African counterparts have been focused on energy and food security, as well as countering Russian propaganda https://t.co/z0e1BQ5g5C

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 7, 2022

However, Duda’s words were met with strong opposition from the foreign ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo – a neighbouring country that remains in conflict with Rwanda.

In a note verbale shared by the Congolese Press Agency, the ministry protested “against the two-faced attitude of Poland”.

“The DRC reserves the right to draw the full consequences of this deliberate and indelicate behaviour by the Polish government,” read the note.

The DRC and Rwanda have been in conflict, whose roots date back to the 1990s. Rwanda has been accused by the DRC and the UN of supporting the rebel group M23 and profiting from coltan – a key raw material in mobile phone production – extracted in the conflict area.

La situation à l’est de la RD Congo est critique. Les Nations Unies ont confirmé le soutien du Rwanda pour les rebelles du M-23. Mais le président polonais Duda promet tout son soutien au… Rwanda.
Soutenir l’Ukraine, affaiblir la RDC. Double standards.pic.twitter.com/qFPtoNu7hU

— Marc Botenga (@BotengaM) February 8, 2024

“The situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo is critical. The United Nations has confirmed that Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebels. But the Polish President Duda has declared his full support for…Rwanda,” wrote Belgian MEP Marc Botenga on X.

The protesters that took to the streets of DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, last week accused the governments of the United States, Belgium and other Western powers of failing to react to the conflict in the region.

According to footage posted on social media, some protesters burnt the flags of these countries and targeted some Western diplomatic missions. One video released by the Africanews portal shows a young man holding a banner reading “Poland get out of the DRC” (Pologne degage en D.R.C).

Polish businesses are already becoming increasingly active in Africa.

And with its lack of colonial baggage and own experiences of economic transition, Poland could be well placed to expand its trade and investment links with the continent

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 21, 2020

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Marek Borawski/KPRP

Agata Pyka is an assistant editor at Notes from Poland. She is a journalist and a political communication student at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in Polish and European politics as well as investigative journalism and has previously written for Euractiv and The European Correspondent.

Podobne wpisy

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *