French President sees progress between Rwanda, DR Congo

(L-R) Rwandan President Paul Kagame, French President Emmanuel Macron and Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi meet at France's permanent mission to the United Nations. / AFP

The Democratic Republic of Congo President, and his counterparts from France, and Rwanda met on Wednesday over the tensions that have flared in recent months between the two African nations.

(L-R) Rwandan President Paul Kagame, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi meet at France’s permanent mission to the United Nations. / AFP

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Emmanuel Macron invited Rwandan President Paul Kagame to lunch with his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, who a day earlier had accused Kigali of backing rebel attacks in his country.

The three leaders together “noted their concerns about the resurgence of violence in the east of the DRC,” the French presidency said in a statement.

France said that Kagame and Tshisekedi agreed on the need for the pullout of M23 rebels from the strategic town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border.

The three leaders want to “intensify lasting cooperation to fight impunity and put an end to activities of armed groups in the Great Lakes region,” the statement said.

In his earlier address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Tshisekedi alleged that Rwanda has provided “massive support” to M23, which he blamed for the shooting down of a UN peacekeeping helicopter in March, in which eight people died.

“Rwanda’s involvement and responsibility are no longer debatable,” he said.

Kagame called for calm in his own address on Wednesday.

“There is an urgent need to find a political need to find and address the root cause of instability in eastern DRC,” Kagame said.

“The blame game does not solve the problems. These challenges are not insurmountable and solutions can be found,” he said.

“This would ultimately be much less costly in terms of both money and human lives.”

In July, after a meeting in Luanda, under the mediation of President Joao Lourenço, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President Tshisekedi agreed to reopen dialogue and have their differences solved diplomatically.

(With input from agencies)