In a recent development, France has strongly condemned Rwanda’s “ongoing military support” for the M23 rebels in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing concern over the continued presence of the M23 and the involvement of Rwandan soldiers on Congolese territory. France called for an immediate cessation of this support, which they vehemently condemned.
The M23 rebellion, primarily composed of Tutsi fighters, has been accused by the United Nations of committing numerous crimes in the eastern region of the DRC. After a decade of dormancy, the group resurfaced at the end of 2021 and has since seized substantial territories in the Congolese province of North Kivu, bordering Rwanda and Uganda.
The statement from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized the need for regional players to honor their commitments and facilitate the prompt withdrawal of the M23 from occupied territories. It further urged all armed groups to engage in the national demobilization and disarmament process. The ministry raised the possibility of imposing sanctions on those obstructing the path to peace.
Notably, during his visit to the DRC in March, French President Emmanuel Macron issued a warning to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, although he stopped short of explicitly condemning the Rwandan government.
In addition to the M23, the Quai d’Orsay (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) denounced the atrocities committed by other armed groups, as highlighted in the latest report by the UN group of experts. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Mai Mai were specifically mentioned as groups terrorizing the region.
The Quai d’Orsay firmly emphasized that these violations must not go unpunished and called for an end to the Congolese armed forces’ support for armed groups such as the FDLR.
A report published by UN experts on Monday painted a distressing picture of “galloping violence” and “growing humanitarian needs” in eastern DRC. The experts also revealed that the ADF rebels were receiving financial support from the Islamic State (ISIS) group, adding to the complexity and gravity of the situation.
The international community is now closely monitoring the situation in the DRC and putting pressure on all parties involved to prioritize peace, facilitate the withdrawal of armed groups, and address the urgent humanitarian crisis in the region. France’s call for an end to Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels marks a significant step in the efforts to bring stability and security to the conflict-ridden eastern Congo.