The Democratic Republic of the Congo asked France to support international sanctions against Rwanda over its military support to M23 rebels who have taken over a growing area in eastern Congo. In the 1990s, six million people died in eastern Congo in a bloody civil war that led to mass killings and starvation.
France’s president Macron said he was waiting for the end of peace negotiations before considering such a step. But he promised that France would defend the Congo’s “integrity and sovereignty.”
The eastern part of the Congo has been torn by war for decades, with militias and bandits vying for control of its vast mineral resources. Most recently, the neighboring country of Rwanda has supported M23 rebels, who have seized control of large chunks of the Congo’s east. Peace talks have taken place in Nairobi, Kenya and Angola’s capital, Luanda. Regional leaders have called for a ceasefire in eastern DRC and demanded that M23 rebels leave the territory they control.
Macron, who was visiting the Congo, said that all sides had “given clear support” to a ceasefire next Tuesday, as agreed to in a compact mediated by Angola. He said the Congo “must not be a spoils of war….This is the very meaning of my presence today, to tell everyone that there cannot be a double standard between the tragedy being played out in Ukraine on European territory and that being played out on African soil.”
The Congo’s president, Felix Tshisekedi, accused Rwanda of “systematic plundering,” saying “There was no reason to justify this aggression, except for economic reasons, which were specific to Rwanda, the instigator of this aggression.”
Tshisekedi was installed as Congo’s president in 2019, after a fraudulent election in December 2018 that was actually won by Martin Fayulu. The regime of Congo’s longtime ruler, Joseph Kabila, reached a corrupt deal with Tshisekedi to declare Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential election, in exchange for Tshisekedi allowing Kabila’s allies to retain much of their power. Polls around the time of the election showed that Fayulu was supported by a comfortable majority in the Congo.