France has openly condemned Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebel movement in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo who are suspected of massacring at least 131 civilians in late November.
In a statement released on Monday, French foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said: “We condemn Rwanda’s support for the M23 group and we ask that the Luanda and Nairobi processes be fully implemented.”
The March 23 movement is a Tutsi-dominated rebellion founded in 2012 that took up arms again late last year, over-running large swathes of territory north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province in the eastern DRC.
According to a UN report released last week, M23 rebels killed at least 131 civilians – including 17 women and 12 children – in November, where people were arbitrarily shot or stabbed to death in two villages in eastern DRC.
The Congolese authorities, UN experts, and US diplomats say the M23 movement is backed by Rwanda, but Rwandan President Paul Kagame has rejected any link to the group’s actions.
Speaking last Wednesday, Kagame said: “The problem was not created by Rwanda, and is not Rwanda’s problem. It’s the Congo’s problem.”
Following Kagame’s comments, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Rwanda to “use its influence” on the M23 rebel movement and said he “fully supports” the Luanda agreement to find a way out of the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
“If it is implemented, I think it will provide a tremendous opportunity to end the conflict and hopefully bring lasting stability to the eastern DRC,” Blinken told a news conference on Thursday, referring to an Angolan-mediated agreement calling for an end to the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The US Secretary of State also called on “all parties” to use their influence on the FDLR, a Hutu movement formed by some of the perpetrators of the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.
Blinken was speaking after a summit of African leaders in Washington where he met Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who had denounced the fact that his country was the victim of “a disguised aggression via Rwanda”.
Blinken did not meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame, but the two leaders had reportedly spoken by phone before the Washington summit. (RFI)