New DR Congo president Felix Tshisekedi in diplomatic flurry

Thursday May 16 2019


The Democratic Republic of Congo's new President Felix Tshisekedi has launched a flurry of diplomatic moves, with France on Wednesday announcing a visit next week of Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The announcement came a day after Tshisekedi said Kinshasa was resuming military cooperation with former colonial power Belgium, and after the sprawling central African country sought rapprochement with neighbouring Rwanda.

Tshisekedi met Tuesday with two senior officials in the Belgian foreign ministry, following a meeting Friday with Rwanda's army chief of staff.

Elected in December, Tshisekedi met Renier Nijskens, Belgium's special envoy for the Great Lakes region, and Philippe Boucke, the country's deputy chief of staff.

The Belgian government said the two countries might exchange ambassadors "soon".

Relations between the DRC and Belgium soured considerably in the last two years of the rule of Tshisekedi's predecessor Joseph Kabila.

Kinshasa objected to Brussels' criticism over its crackdown on demonstrations demanding that Kabila step aside at the end of his second constitutional mandate in December 2016.

Kinshasa suspended its military cooperation with Brussels in April 2017, prompting Brussels to recall its ambassador.

On Friday, Tshisekedi met with Rwandan army chief of staff Patrick Nyamvumba.


The new Congolese leader had travelled in late March to Kigali to pay his respects at a memorial to victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide ahead of the 25th anniversary of the slaughter -- a first for a Congolese president.

The presence of dozens of armed groups in eastern DRC, near the border with Rwanda, has been a source of bilateral tensions.


© Agence France-Presse