President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has called on young people to form "vigilance groups."
President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo called on Thursday for young people to form "vigilance groups" in response to M23 rebel activity in the country's east.
Tshisekedi stated again in a national television address that the M23 operated with "the support of Rwanda," which he accused of harboring "expansionist ambitions."
The M23, a mostly Congolese Tutsi group, resumed fighting in late 2021 after being dormant for years, accusing the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of failing to honor an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army.
The resurgence of the militia has strained regional relations in Central Africa, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbor Rwanda of supporting the militia.
Rwanda, according to Tshisekedi, has set its sights on "appropriating our minerals."
"In order to accomplish this, it is working to destabilize eastern Congo in order to create a lawless zone to satisfy its criminal appetites," he explained.
He went on to say that diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions had yielded "no tangible result."
He stated that the conflict would necessitate "sacrifice" as well as "the engagement of all of (the nation's) daughters and sons."
"In response to the strong demand from the youth, I invite them to form vigilance groups in order to prop up, accompany, and support our armed forces."
Tshisekedi reaffirmed his call for young people to join the military while urging them not to "stigmatize Rwandophone communities."
After several weeks of peace, the M23 resumed its offensive in late October, seizing several towns along a crucial road leading to the vital eastern city of Goma.
The DRC announced on Sunday that it was dismissing Rwanda's ambassador and had earlier this week called back its own representative from Kigali.