French President Emmanuel Macron last week concluded a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) where he went straight to name areas where the country failed and has but themselves to blame.
During a press conference alongside host President Felix Tshisekedi, Congolese journalists were keen to push Macron to “name Rwanda as their aggressor who is supporting M23 rebels”.
However, the guest Macron said that past mistakes are leading the country to the ugliest situation, yet solutions to DRC problems are in DRC first and foremost.
A question by a journalist first wanted to remind the context which allowed armed people from Rwanda to enter DRC, the then Zaïre “against the will of the country, shielded by France and have now become a militia-FDLR which is a threat to the country.”
This came from a journalist of Okapi, notwithstanding the fact that FDLR has now become a special ally of DRC.
President Macron understood that the question to a large extent pointed a finger to France as the root cause of all the problems they have been going through.
He admitted that in 1994, indeed DRC received several communities from several neighbouring countries, and militia were born from the refugees to take advantage of their natural resources in most cases.
He said DRC did nothing about that.
“Since 1994, excuse-me for saying this in straight forward words, it’s not the fault of France, you were not capable to restore the sovereignty, neither militarily nor administratively and security wise, that’s a reality. We should not find the guilty among third parties in this context,” Macron said.
He said through the years, the country experienced several conflicts, but responsible people are still there and went unpunished.
“How do you want everlasting peace and trust in a country where justice is not done? You cannot blame France on something that depends on you,” he said.
The intervention on this was concluded with an advice to DRC to “never blame everything on France, but to have the role of everyone named clearly, including DRC itself and the great lakes sub region.
The opinion of Macron is that an independent commission can be named to that effect, the same way it was done to establish the role of France in Rwanda’s Genocide against Tutsi, only if Tshisekedi agrees.
He also advised DRC “to build a solid army, and re-establish the State on the whole Congolese territory, and to render justice to avoid people who enjoy freedom despite criminal responsibilities.”
“You may also be incorruptible against your neighbours who come to loot you and we shall be by your side,” he further advised following an allegation that “Rwanda has been looting Congo minerals” by Tshisekedi.
In a recent intervention, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame said that Rwandans are not thieves.
“One thing we are not and that makes us resilient, is that we are not thieves. We work for what we have and what we get,” President Kagame said, adding that the progress Rwanda has made in the past decades was out of hard work.
Peace Process Vs Sanctions
When it comes to the issue of M23, DRC goes as far as asking that France pushes the UN security council to “take sanctions against Rwanda” even though no undisputable evidence was proved on Rwanda supporting M23 which is fighting against the massacre of the Kinyarwanda speaking Tutsi community in their country-DRC.
Macron’s opinion is that sanctions themselves would be an obstruction to peace efforts that the region started under the Nairobi and Luanda process.
He said: “If we think that one person will solve all problems, we shall all end unfortunate. As I told the president, I support the process and I have confidence in President Lourenço. I hope we shall not have to go towards sanctions if the process is respected. Hopefully, that’s what you all in this room prefer, because it will avoid the war and at the same time be a path to stability.”
In his interventions, Tshisekedi was posing as a supporter of the peace process in some areas, but would contradict himself in others.
He for example was more concerned by the people displaced by the war, but did not do any allusion to nearly one million refugees in African countries, including Rwanda, who also need be repatriated according to the peace process roadmap.
Despite Macron reminding that there exist scores of armed groups in DRC, the Congolese leader only sounded that they have one and only one threat to their security, the M23.
Of all these however, Macron reminds something similar to a Kinyarwanda proverb that it is unfortunate to wait for someone else support, because you risk being disappointed – ak’I Muhana kaza imvura ihise.
“We have taken humanitarian and political engagement, including on security, but it is not France that will bring the solution. I am saying this with clarity and humility,” Macron said.
Elections in DRC
DRC is supposed to go to Presidential polls this year, and Tshisekedi alleged that all is well in other places, except in a few areas of Eastern DRC.
Macron promised his country’s support to the electoral process in DRC, provided neutrality, meticulous organisation which also allows regional and international observers and local religious observers.
The latest may have sounded an aggression in the ears of the Congolese ruler whose election was contested by the catholic church council in DRC, a country where the roman Catholics constitute the vast majority.
The host and his guest were in disagreement on this issue of elections where cases of malpractices were named.
Macron took the lead to “close that parenthesis” shaking the hand of Tshisekedi in a sign of fair play.
Social media reacted to a screenshot of Tshisekedi pointing a finger to his guest and either of them seeking to cut his counterpart short.
They called it “a diplomatic incident”.