The Democratic Republic of Congo’s leader has taken his rhetorical attacks on his Rwandan counterpart to another level by comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
Félix Tshisekedi said Paul Kagame was behaving like Hitler, and added: “I promise he will end up like Hitler”.
Mr Tshisekedi who is campaigning for re-election, was addressing a rally in Bukavu, close to the Rwandan border.
He has often accused Rwanda of backing rebels in the east of his country, which it has always denied.
The spokesperson for Rwanda’s government described the Congolese president’s comments as “a loud and clear threat”.
With the vote less than two weeks away, Mr Tshisekedi is trying to win backing for a second term. Despite attempts to quell the violence, which has included ceasefire deals and the presence of regional and UN troops, who are now leaving, insecurity is still rife in the east of the country.
A multiplicity of armed groups have caused mayhem, including Tutsi-led M23 rebels, who Mr Tshisekedi has said are supported by Rwanda.
A UN group of experts made a similar observation in a report released earlier this year with the US backing its findings.
The M23 has been seizing Congolese territory forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.
Speaking on Friday night, Mr Tshisekedi said to supporters that he would tell Mr Kagame that “since he wanted to behave like Adolf Hitler by having expansionist aims, I promise he will end up like Adolf Hitler.
“However, he [has] met his match, someone who is determined to stop him and protect his country.”
Hitler, responsible for the deaths of millions, including six million Jewish people in the Holocaust, ended up taking his own life in a bunker in the German capital, Berlin, in 1945.
His efforts to expand German territory led to World War Two.
Mr Tshisekedi has previously described the Rwandan leader as “the enemy of the Democratic Republic of Congo”. In a BBC interview last year, he said their relationship was “cold for lack of a better word. It is he who unfortunately decided to attack the Democratic Republic of Congo”.
Mr Kagame has always dismissed such talk in the past, accused Mr Tshisekedi of being a “war monger” and instead focussed on another rebel group in the east of DR Congo – the Hutu-led FDLR – which Rwanda sees as a threat.
In her message on X, formerly Twitter, responding to the Hitler remarks, Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said it was “a loud and clear threat by the DRC president, in a context where the FDLR is more armed than ever”.
Mr Kagame has been the dominant political figure in Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide, in which about 800,000 people were slaughtered by ethnic Hutu extremists targeting the Tutsi minority.