The France-DRCongo Dialogue in Paris Addresses the Crisis in Eastern DRC

In a press conference in Paris, amid his concluding visit to France, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo was reassured of France’s continued support in seeking peace in the conflict-ridden eastern region of the country. This area has been ensnared in turmoil for nearly three decades, heavily impacting its citizens.

French President Emmanuel Macron, alongside President Tshisekedi, asserted France’s unwavering commitment to uphold the sovereignty and independence of the Congo. Macron highlighted, “In our discussions, it was clear that no external forces should prevail, and just as we defend the sovereignty in Europe, we will champion the same for Africa.”

Macron was candid about the roles different actors play in the complexities facing Congo, denouncing all armed groups, especially condemning the attacks by M23, a rebel group often discussed in the context of regional instability. He stressed the imperative for M23 to cease hostilities and withdraw from the occupied territories. “All armed groups, without exception, must progressively disarm, reintegrate into civil life, and this must be implemented to respect your territorial integrity,” Macron emphasized.

The French leader reiterated his recent discussions with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, urging Rwanda to end its support for M23 and withdraw its troops from Congolese soil. “I have made this clear to President Kagame and will remind him in our forthcoming meetings,” Macron declared.

President Tshisekedi acknowledged the severe implications of foreign interference, particularly by Rwanda, in destabilizing Congo. Since his election in 2019, Tshisekedi has endeavored to foster good relations with all neighboring countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, aiming to resolve historical tensions and jointly pursue development initiatives beneficial for their peoples. However, these efforts have been marred by persistent conflicts and unauthorized economic activities that exploit Congo’s resources.

Moreover, Tshisekedi criticized the Rwandan government’s consistent denial of its alleged involvement with M23, despite frequent accusations from the international community, including UN experts, of Rwanda’s military collaboration with the rebel group. The Congolese president also lamented the halted peace talks due to ongoing military actions in the eastern regions, particularly around Goma, which have thwarted any immediate prospects for dialogue.