Cape Town — President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi has urged visiting French President Emmanuel Macron to pursue international sanctions against Rwanda, for its alleged military support of M23 rebels, according to a report by Al Jazeera.
The Tuti-led M23 rebels conquered swathes of territory in the eastern DR Congo since it launched its latest offensive in late 2021. However, while Rwanda denies any involvement in the M23’s resurgence, accusations against the nation have led to a serious diplomatic crisis in the region, AllAfrica reports.
In an address at the United Nations on September 20, 2022, Tshisekedi renewed accusations that Rwanda is supporting rebel groups in his country, AllAfrica reports. This follows a recent confidential report by the UN, confirming Rwanda’s involvement.
Tshisekedi said that Rwanda had provided “massive support both in war materiel and troops” to M23 rebels, which have been increasingly active in eastern border areas, and which he brands a “terrorist group”.
President Macron in his response to Tshisekedi’s request, said he was waiting for the end of several ongoing peace negotiation efforts before considering such a step. But he promised that France would be “faithful to its role as an unwavering ally of [DRC] to defend its integrity and sovereignty.”
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that Brussels has announced that they are developing a humanitarian air bridge to transport supplies to Goma, the capital of DR Congo’s eastern North Kivu province, where more than 600,000 people have been displaced by fighting between DR Congo forces and M23 rebels.
The EU which previously called out Rwanda on its support of the M23 rebels, is also releasing U.S.$50 million (47 million euros) to be channelled through humanitarian partners for immediate needs such as nutrition, healthcare, shelter and water.
Macron undertook visits to four African nations from March 1, 2023 – Gabon, Republic of Congo, DR Congo and Angola. It comes at a time when France suffered key setbacks, especially in the Sahel region. France also ended military operations in Mali and Burkina Faso, amid deteriorating relationships with the military power-holders, and rising anti-French sentiment.