Ex-French president Sarkozy meets DR Congo officials in Kinshasa

Thursday March 23 2023
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy who arrived in Kinshasa on March 22, 2023 for a meeting with Congolese government officials. PHOTO | FILE | ERIC PIERMONT | AFP


Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Kinshasa on Wednesday for a meeting with Congolese government officials.

Some sources had indicated Sarkozy was invited by President Felix Tshisekedi to discuss the feud between Kinshasa and Kigali over claims of support for rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, there has been no clarity on either side on whether Mr Sarkozy had arranged any dialogue.

Sarkozy is known to have contacts both in Kinshasa and Kigali and is a close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron who was in Kinshasa recently.

President Tshisekedi's spokesperson quickly denied the information on Sarkozy’s agenda as initially reported by the Africa Intelligence news portal.

Read: M23’s ceasefire fails to hold in east DRC


‘No mediation project’

“The arrival in our country of the former French president is in no way at the initiative of the president of the DRC,” spokesperson Tina Salama told The EastAfrican.

“There is no mediation project on the Rwandan aggression that would be entrusted to Mr Sarkozy. So, President Félix Tshisekedi will be delighted to receive him during his private visit to Kinshasa,” she added.

Sarkozy, however, met with President Tshisekedi in Kinshasa over dinner on Wednesday and another meeting was scheduled for Thursday.

Congo crisis

Sarkozy's visit comes as the Great Lakes region struggles with the Congo crisis which has divided some members while others seek to pacify eastern parts of the DRC.

Read: Rwanda, DR Congo differ on M23 threat

The heads of state in the region have been asking President Félix Tshisekedi, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and the M23 rebels to open dialogue to end the war. Previous mediation bids arranged by Qatar failed to take off twice early this year after the Congolese leader failed to show up in Doha.

In 2009, when he was president of France, Sarkozy was the first to propose an economic agreement for joint mining between Rwanda and the DRC as a lasting peace between the two countries.