BFF-72 DR Congo swipes at Macron after talks with African Union leader

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DR Congo swipes at Macron after talks with African Union leader

KINSHASA, May 28, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) reacted angrily on Monday after French President Emmanuel Macron met
the head of the African Union, apparently suspecting closed-door dealings on
the crisis-riddled country’s future.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende blasted Macron for “dog-whistle
remarks” that he made last Wednesday in Paris after meeting with Rwandan
President Paul Kagame, who is also the AU’s current chair.

The comments caused “discomfort, not to say anger” in Kinshasa, Mende
told a press conference.

Macron had said, “France supports the initiative taken by the president
of the African Union, in strict concertation with the president of Angola,”
but did not elaborate. Angola President Joao Lourenco was visiting Paris on
Monday.

The verbal broadside from the DRC comes in a context of mounting tensions
ahead of presidential elections scheduled for December 23.

Countries in central Africa are casting a worried eye, amid fears that
the sprawling, volatile state could spiral once more into war, possibly
drawing them into it.

DRC President Joseph Kabila has been in power since 2001 and should have
stepped down at the end of 2016 after he reached his two-term constitutional
limit — a constitutional clause has allowed him to remain in office until
his successor is elected.

His presidency has been stained by a reputation for corruption,
oppression of free speech and poor governance. The DRC’s armed forces are
struggling to repress conflict in the vast, lawless east, which is under the
sway of multiple rebel groups.

Mende said, “We do not accuse the French president of anything. The
question is about knowing what may have been said between him — because he
spoke about it — and the president of Rwanda concerning the DRC without us
knowing about.”

“When the answer comes, if it is unsatisfactory, you can be sure that we
will draw all the consequences,” Mende said.

“No-one has the right to envisage solutions to our problems without us,”
he said, condemning “people who are nostalgic for the colonial order” and
“closed-door meetings and open plotting against our country’s sovereignty.”

The representatives of France, Rwanda and Angola were called to the
foreign ministry in Kinshasa on Saturday after Macron’s remarks.

Previous conflicts in the DRC — from 1996-97 and from 1998-2003 —
sucked in countries around central Africa, including the DRC’s neighbours,
Angola and Rwanda.

BSS/AFP/RY/20:30 hrs