Rwanda accuses DR Congo leader of 'threat' over Hitler jibe

President of Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi is welcomed by President of Rwanda Paul Kagame with an official ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda on June 25, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

Kigali on Sunday accused the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo of issuing a "threat" against his Rwandan counterpart after he compared him to Adolf Hitler during a speech.

Eastern DRC has been plagued by decades of unabated violence by rebel groups, including the Tutsi-led M23 which has seized swathes of land since launching an offensive in late 2021.

Kinshasa, as well as several Western nations including the United States and France, say the M23 is backed by Rwanda, though Kigali denies this claim.

"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, I promise he will end up like Adolf Hitler," President Felix Tshisekedi told an election campaign rally in eastern DRC on Friday.

On Sunday, Yolande Makolo, a Rwandan government spokeswoman, told AFP: "The threat by the president of DRC adds to the many provocations he has been using to distract from his security and governance failures."

Makolo had earlier described Tshisekedi's comments as "a loud and clear threat" in a post on X on Saturday.

While most of the DRC has returned to relative stability after two major wars in the 1990s and 2000s, militias and rebel groups roam much of the country's east, which borders Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Tshisekedi has previously described Rwanda as a "horrible neighbour" and accused it of wanting to monopolise the wealth, particularly mining, in eastern DRC.

Tshisekedi, who took office in 2019 after a disputed election, is running for a second term and has pledged to improve the lives of the poor, fight corruption and pacify the conflict-torn east.

The election is scheduled for December 20.