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June 13, 2024
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France’s Macron Urges Rwanda To ‘Halt Support’ For M23 Rebels

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged Rwanda to halt its support for the M23 rebels wreaking havoc in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a joint news briefing with DR Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi, who is on a visit to Paris, Mr Macron said: “Rwanda must halt its support for M23 and withdraw its forces from Congolese territory.”

The message will hit Kigali hard considering that it had mended several patches with France in recent years after accusing the European nation of facilitating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Mr Macron has accepted his country failed Rwanda and apologised for the complicity in the ethnic killing that left at least a million people dead.

And while these sentiments have been seen as mending fences, by explicitly accusing Rwanda of sponsoring M23 rebels, the relationship could be tested.

The M23 first began operating in 2012 ostensibly to protect the Tutsi population in eastern DR Congo, which had long complained of persecution and discrimination.

The UN, EU and US have said that Rwanda, which is also led by Tutsi, is backing the M23.

Last March, when asked to condemn Rwanda’s reported support for the rebels, Mr Macron said he had been “very clear about the condemnation of the M23 and those who support it”.

The government in Kigali has repeatedly denied this, with President Paul Kagame variously insisting he only defends Rwanda’s sovereign interests when provoked.

Speaking at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February, Mr Kagame said his country will neither hesitate nor apologise in its commitment to safeguarding the security of its citizens.

“Rwanda will never hesitate or apologise for protecting the security of its people,” Kagame said. “Nor will we seek permission to do so.”

Rwanda has always denied the accusations, and instead counter that Kinshasa was backing FDLR – a militia group largely responsible for the 1994 pogrom in Rwanda in which over a million people, the majority of them from the Tutsi ethnic group, were slaughtered.

“We lost over one million people during the Genocide against the Tutsi. Nothing and no one will be allowed to take us back,” Kagame said.

Rwanda has always instead countered accusations of supporting M23 rebels by saying that Kinshasa was backing FDLR – a militia group largely responsible for the 1994 pogrom in Rwanda in which over a million people, the majority of them from the Tutsi ethnic group, were slaughtered.

“We lost over one million people during the Genocide against the Tutsi. Nothing and no one will be allowed to take us back,” Kagame said in February.

Kigali had not yet responded to Mr Macron’s piercing call.

President Tshisekedi said he intends to meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame to confront him directly about alleged aggression against his country and demand his departure from Congolese territory.

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