DRC Welcomes French Stance on M23 but Calls for Sanctions Against Rwanda

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

France urged Rwanda to “cease all support for the M23” active in eastern DRC, and notably called upon Kigali to “withdraw from Congolese territory.” This marks the first instance of France addressing the presence of Rwandan soldiers in eastern DRC. While Congolese authorities acknowledge the evolution in French rhetoric regarding the presence of Rwandan military personnel on Congolese soil, they emphasize the need for concrete action.

From the Congolese presidency’s perspective, while they appreciate the French shift in semantics to now acknowledge the presence of Rwandan soldiers on Congolese territory, mere declarations are no longer sufficient.

Giscard Kusema, head of presidential communications, asserts, “We believe that Rwanda is waging a predatory war. Economic sanctions are necessary, as they would be for any state that aggresses another. DRC cannot comprehend why contracts continue to be signed between Western powers and Rwanda for minerals that Rwanda does not possess on its soil. We find this behavior suspicious, and it is a culpable silence on the part of all other states that do not address this issue.”

French diplomacy assures that there is no taboo surrounding the question of sanctions against Rwanda, but such measures are not currently on the agenda, according to Christophe Lemoine, spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He states, “The issue of sanctions is not currently being considered. Once again, the framework for discussion is within the Luanda process, and sanctions have not been discussed. Sanctions are employed in international relations when there is a serious escalation and a need to send a strong message. Currently, this is not a topic on the table.”

Presently, the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States have imposed sanctions on several leaders of the M23, FDLR, and other armed groups operating in the DRC.

In eastern DRC, clashes in Saké have displaced at least 135,000 people since early February, according to the UN. The latest wave of fighting between M23 rebels, backed by Rwanda, and the Congolese army, allied with Wazalendo militias, is extremely violent. Displaced individuals have consequently flooded into Goma, already overcrowded by families fleeing the ongoing war since late 2021. New sites, including Lac Vert, are emerging, although these locations are exposed due to their proximity to the front line and a military camp.


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