Hollande blasts DRC's rights record

2012-10-15 12:03
French President Francois Hollande. (File, AFP)

French President Francois Hollande. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kinshasa - France's president Francois Hollande denounced the Democratic Republic of Congo's rights record, calling for an end to the conflict in the east as leaders of French-speaking nations met Saturday.

Only about 15 heads of state of the Francophonie organisation's 75 member countries were present in the parliament building in Kinshasa alongside their host, DRC President Joseph Kabila.

Hollande, who has angered Kinshasa by saying the human rights situation in DRC was unacceptable, drove the point home in "frank and direct" talks with Kabila just before the summit opened.

Speaking after other meetings with representatives of the opposition and NGOs, Hollande said: "Francophonie is not just the French language.

"Speaking French also means speaking about human rights, because the rights of man were written in French," a reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted by French revolutionaries.

The French leader also met with opposition chief Etienne Tshisekedi.

Violent rebellions and ethnic conflict gripping eastern regions of DRC were expected to feature prominently at the summit.

So too was the situation in Mali, where radical militants have seized control of the north of the country.

Great determination

Hollande dismissed a claim by the leader of one militant group that his support for military intervention against the extremists in control of northern Mali had put the lives of French hostages at risk.

Oumar Ould Hamaha, a leader of one of the rebel groups allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), said Hollande had also put his own life on the line.

"The lives of the French hostages are now in danger because of statements by the French president who wants to wage war against us," said Hamaha, of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).

"His own life is now in danger. He needs to know this."

Aqim is currently holding nine Europeans hostage in the Sahel region, six of them French.

From Kinshasa, Hollande rejected the comments.

"It's by showing great determination to stick to our policy, which is that of war on terrorism, that we can convince the hostage-takers that it is now time to release our hostages," he told reporters.

Kabila was greeted with tumultuous applause as the summit opened.

Elsewhere in Kinshasa however, police used tear gas on dozens of stone-throwing demonstrators opposed to his regime who had defied a ban on protests. They claim Kabila's 2011 re-election was riddled with fraud.

Unjust war

Kabila spoke about "an unjust war imposed" by outsiders in the east of the country.

"While our people are sparing no effort to improve their lives, negative forces beholden to outside interests have for several months worked to destabilise our country in North Kivu province," on the eastern border with Rwanda, Kabila said to the summit.

He did not specifically mention Rwanda, which it has accused of backing rebels there - a charge also brought by UN investigators. Kigali denies the charges, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame has stayed away from the summit.

Hollande had earlier condemned the "outside attacks" in eastern DR Congo, where Congolese troops are battling several militia in the mineral-rich region.

He called for renewing and if necessary reinforcing the UN mission to the country (Monusco).

The 14th Francophonie summit, which runs through Sunday, will also likely focus on the future of an organisation that has struggled for relevancy since its creation in 1970.

Read more on:    aqim  |  monusco  |  al-qaeda  |  paul kagame  |  etienne tshisekedi  |  francois hollande  |  france  |  drc  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.