“Since 1994, sorry to say it in such crude terms, you have never been able to restore the military, security or administrative sovereignty of your country. It is a reality. We must not look for culprits outside, in this case” (…) “Don’t blame the France for something that depends on you” – President Emmanuel Macron (04.03.2023).
Sometimes, hubris and arrogance takes over. In essence, that’s maybe what happened in the Joint Press Conference with French President Emmanuel Macron and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi. The French thought he could humiliate and act naive about the past. However, the French has to take responsibility here… their choices and power in the Great Lakes has cost lives and insecurity. Not their actions alone, but they have amplified. That was all done in favour of one ruling elite and regime in the early 1990s in Kigali. This is why there is issues to this day.
In Kinshasa yesterday, Macron could have answered and offered relief for the mistakes of the past. Instead, he pins the blame on the rulers today and brushes of the involvement in the past. That is arrogant and forgetful. Like if “Operation Turquoise” wasn’t implemented and didn’t have any sort of outcome to begin with. While we all know the aftermath and what occurred after the French gave the ex-FAR and “interahamwe” a safe-haven in the DRC. Many of us know the continued bloodshed and insecurity that has persisted ever since. Therefore, the French should take blame, but we see the entitlement of Paris in these regards. Seriously, it is infuriating.
Just read snippets of assessments and writings on the matter!
“That is why, in addition to the major concerns outlined above, we share with you a copy of a memo that we gave to members of the delegation of the Security Council of the United Nations who visited the DR Congo on May 19, 2009 – a memo which tells the tragedy suffered by the Congolese people. This memo can be summarized as follows:
“Since 1994, the superbly armed Hutu, fleeing the advance of the Rwandan Patriotic Army crossed the Congolese border with support of UN operations called ‘turquoise’, headed by France. These Hutus settled in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu in flagrant violation of all international standards governing the right of asylum or refuge. Known as the “Interahamwe” or FDLR, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, and so on, these Hutu particularly stand out in DR Congo by practicing acts of looting, rape, massacre and so on. And since they became a pretext for the authorities in Kigali to justify the presence in DR Congo of their regular army, the results are the current massacres and atrocities suffered by our people at Makobola, Kasika Katogota, Lemera, Nindja, Kaniola , Kalambi, Bunyakiri, Kaziba, Luhwindja, Kalonge, Bukavu, Uvira, Kiliba, Katumba Kalehe, Bwegera, Kamituga, Mwenga, Shabunda, Lugushwa, Ngando, Ndola, Kigulube, Bijombo, Masango Tubimbi, Kakungwe, Mushago, Kitutu, Lubuga , Mutambala, Fizi, Minembwe, Bibokoboko, Baraka, Kagabwe, to name a few, as regards the South-Kivu. Moreover, Rwanda’s history is punctuated by cyclical and fratricidal wars driven by a spirit of intolerance and retaliation between Hutus and Tutsis. Hence, when it is the Rwandan Tutsi ethnic group that is in power, their countrymen who are in the majority, the Hutus, are in exile: and vice versa. DR Congo has become each time, the country of pilgrimage for them” (Rev. Aniedi Okure, OP – Letter From Congolese Elected Officials to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 26.08.2009).
“That the French government be careful not to use the excuses made to the Rwandan regime to join the club of looters of DRC resources; That the French government take a position on the genocide and serious crimes committed in the Congo by the Rwandans and their accomplices since “Operation Turquoise”; That the French government in turn come out clearly in favor of the creation of an International Criminal Tribunal for the DR Congo, responsible for prosecuting the perpetrators of the genocide and serious crimes committed in the Congo since “Operation Turquoise” in 1994; That the parliamentarians friends of the Congo, introduce these concerns of the Congolese people in their questions to the government and before the European institutions” (Hamuli RETY – ‘CRID MEMORANDUM ON THE CONSEQUENCES OF “OPERATION TURQUOISE” AND THE CONGOLESE GENOCIDE IN THE DRC’ 08.03.2010, CRID).
“The escape of many of these Hutu extremists was enabled by the French safe zone, concealed by the flood of refugees. To fight these rebels, the new Rwandan government supported the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL), which also aimed at overthrowing the president. This caused a violent emergency in the DR Congo in October 1996. Therefore, the intervention did trigger instability in a neighboring country, however, the conflict did not occur within two years after the end of the intervention” (Rwanda 1994, Teresa Leiendecker, Karolina Schmid, 21.12.2018).
When you read these things and from very different sources. You understand the deep underlying sentiment. Alas, the French has responsibility for the insecurity in the DRC. It is partly their fault and it cannot hide from it decades later. The choices made by the leaders of Paris has haunted the DRC. It still does and the remains of these decisions are costing lives today. Therefore, Macron should be more humble and understanding.
However, he met an inept and unprepared President. The leaders of Kinshasa wasn’t prepared or ready for yesterday. They didn’t think it would play out like it this week, but it has. Macron trying to act like the “hot shot” and “big man” but not account for the past transgression of his nation. That’s something he should acknowledge, but if he does… he knows he will have to pay consequences right now, but also possibly at home. That’s why he doesn’t have the courage or the heart to do so. Peace.