DRC-Rwanda: “The issue of sanctions is not on the agenda at the moment”-French Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson

On Tuesday, February 20th, France formally addressed the ongoing situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by urging Rwanda to halt any support for the M23 rebel group active in the eastern part of the DRC. In a significant development, Paris also requested Kigali to withdraw its troops from Congolese territory, marking the first time France has publicly acknowledged the presence of Rwandan soldiers in the eastern DRC.

The reaction from the Congolese presidency was one of cautious approval toward France’s changing rhetoric, acknowledging for the first time Rwandan military presence on Congolese soil. However, Congolese officials argue that mere verbal statements are no longer sufficient. Giscard Kusema, the head of presidential communication, emphasized the severity of the situation by stating, “We believe Rwanda is waging a war of predation. There should be economic sanctions, as is done for any state that aggresses another. The DRC cannot comprehend why contracts continue to be signed between Western powers and Rwanda for minerals that they do not possess on their soil. We find this attitude suspect and view it as a culpable silence on the part of all other states that do not speak out on this issue.”

Despite the Congolese call for sanctions against Rwanda, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its spokesperson Christophe Lemoine, clarified that the imposition of sanctions is not currently under consideration. “The issue of sanctions is not on the agenda at the moment. The framework for discussions remains the Luanda process, and sanctions have not been discussed. Sanctions are a tool used in international relations when there is a serious escalation and a strong message needs to be sent. At the moment, this is not a topic on the table.”

As it stands, the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States have already imposed sanctions on several leaders of the M23, the FDLR, and other armed groups operating within the DRC. The international community continues to monitor the situation closely, with hopes for a peaceful resolution that addresses the concerns and sovereignty of the DRC while fostering stability in the region.