France Snubs Congo’s President at Francophone Summit

Francophone summit
French president meeting DRC opposition leaders

The Francophone summit of French-speaking countries closed in Kinshasa on Sunday with a pledge to back the host country’s territorial integrity but after French President François Hollande had snubbed President Joseph Kabila by meeting his principal opponent and criticising a “lack of democracy” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“France stands with the defenders of human rights,” Hollande declared after meeting veteran DRC opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi Saturday.

Tshisekedi declared himself “very satisfied” with his “brother”, whose Socialist Party, like his own UDPS, is a member of the Socialist International.

Hollande described his earlier meeting with Kabila as “frank and direct”, having repeatedly criticised an alleged lack of human rights in DRC before and during his visit.

The summit ended with a “Kinshasa Declaration”, which was set to touch on several sensitive subjects:

  • It backs the DRC’s territorial integrity in the face of insurgency in Nord Kivu province, leaving Rwanda, which is accused of helping the rebels, unhappy with calls for sanctions and legal action against perpetrators of atrocities there;
  • It welcomes the UN Security Council resolution calling for the preparation of a west African intervention force in Mali;
  • It calls for solutions to the crises in Madagascar and Guinea Bissau;
  • It calls for “good governance” in forestry and extractive industries and for more effort to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.