French hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon on Thursday denounced the “expansionist aims” of Rwanda in eastern DRC, as renewed fighting flared up between rebels and pro-government armed groups.
“I wanted to reaffirm my fraternity with the Congolese people at a time when they are facing a challenge that is totally imported,” Melenchon said after a meeting with DRC President Felix Tshisekedi.
“[It is time for the] condemnation of actions disrupting the democratic life of this country, since the resumption of military activities … is taking place at a time when the DRC is organising its presidential elections,” he said.
Elections are set to be held on 20 December; Tshisekedi is a candidate.
Independent UN experts, Kinshasa, Paris and Washington have accused Rwanda of backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebel group, which has captured swathes of territory in eastern DRC since 2021.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has denied the accusation on many occasions.
The conflict recently intensified around Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province, with clashes between M23, the Congolese army and groups of pro-government fighters.
Fighting has forced around 200,000 people to flee their homes since 1 October, according to the UN humanitarian agency.
Melenchon said the M23 rebel movement “articulated by neighbouring Rwanda”, reflected a “deliberate desire to disrupt … the functioning of democracy in the Congo” and challenge its “sovereignty”.
He added that he hoped for a return to a ceasefire and that “Rwanda abandons the expansionist aims that we have heard Kagame declare”.
Melenchon arrived in the DRC on Tuesday for a one-week visit after being invited by a university and accompanied by a delegation of three MPs from his France Unbowed party.
Understand Africa’s tomorrow… today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.