Macron urges Rwanda to end support for Congo rebels, withdraw troopsTue, 30 Apr 2024 14:45:29 GMT

Rwanda must end support for M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and withdraw troops from its neighbour’s territory, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.”We argue for territorial integrity on the African continent as well” as in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Macron told a joint press conference with DRC President Felix Tshisekedi.”Rwanda must halt support for M23 and withdraw its forces from Congolese territory,” he added, insisting, “France will never give any ground on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the DRC”.Macron said he would call Rwandan President Paul Kagame “in the coming days”.Tshisekedi welcomed Paris’ “even stronger support at the side of the Congolese people”, saying it showed his country “can count on France”.Kinshasa would be open to new talks with Kigali once its troops “have left” DRC territory, he added.Macron said that the DRC had made a “commitment” to “end the activities of the FDLR”, or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an armed ethnic Hutu group operating in Congo’s east for 30 years.After eight years of dormancy, the mostly Tutsi M23 rebellion took up arms again in late 2021, seizing large swathes of North Kivu province in eastern DRC.According to DR Congo, the United Nations and Western countries, neighbouring Rwanda is backing the M23.Tshisekedi on Tuesday called the rebels “an empty shell” used by Kigali to threaten the DRC.Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has long brushed off the allegations, but said he is sympathetic to the M23 and has accused the DRC of itself supporting the FDLR.Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in recent fighting.The United Nations estimated at the end of 2023 that nearly seven million people were displaced in the DR Congo, including 2.5 million in North Kivu province alone.