France and Democratic Republic of the Congo

Presentation

Political relations

France has been active for a number of years to ensure respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and enable a settlement to the crisis in the Great Lakes region. The bilateral relationship is supported by special ties based on Francophonie. France is responsible for proposing resolutions concerning the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the United Nations Security Council. It has committed, bilaterally and within the EU and the Security Council, to ensuring respect for democracy, human rights and the Constitution in the country, in order to enable an end to the political crisis that began at the end of President Kabila’s second term.

France welcomed the signing of the political agreement on 31 December 2016 and the work of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (CENCO). It called for the effective holding of elections in accordance with the electoral calendar published on 5 November 2017, in accordance with the Constitution and the spirit of consensus that prevailed during the signing of the political agreement on 31 December 2016. It emphasized the need to fully implement the agreement, particularly as regards measures to reduce political tension, essential for credible and peaceful elections.

France has condemned the violence in the Kasaï province. It has called for full light to be shed on the serious human rights violations reported there, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. France has condemned the violence committed by security forces during the demonstrates of 31 December 2017 and 21 January 2018, reiterating its call for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and stressing the need for proportionate use of force in maintaining order.

Visits

Presidential visits

  • Joseph Kabila was received by Jacques Chirac, then President of the Republic, in January 2001 and November 2001, on 9 September 2002 and on 3 February 2004 (a meeting also took place in New York during the UN General Assembly on 21 September 2006). He made an official visit to France on 16 and 17 July 2008 and again on 21 May 2014.
  • President Sarkozy visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 26 March 2009, in the first French presidential visit Kinshasa to since 1984.
  • President Hollande attended the Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa on 13 October 2012, an event which had a substantial bilateral aspect.

Ministerial visits (since 2014)

  • 28-30 June 2014, visit to the DRC by Ms Lebranchu, Minister for Decentralization and the Civil Service (inauguration of the DRC National School of Public Administration)
  • 24 February 2015, visit to Paris by Mr Raymond Tshibanda, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • November 2015, visit to Paris by Mr Maker Mwangu Famba, Minister of National Education
  • January 2016, visit to Paris by Mr Alexis Thambwe, Minister of Justice, and Mr Isumbisho Mwapu, Minister of the Civil Service.

Trade

The bilateral trade balance is traditionally in favour of France, with gradually increasing flows (+100% between 2009 and 2014). French exports are concentrated in the sectors of mechanical equipment (30%), pharmaceuticals (28%), agricultural and agrifood products (24%). France’s imports (which represent about 1% of exports from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) also consist essentially of agricultural and agrifood products (77%).

Cooperation

French cooperation is focused on the fields of education, environmental protection and biodiversity, and health. Activities are also carried out in the field of governance (support to financial administrations and establishing the rule of law), the teaching of French (the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the largest francophone country in the world), cultural diversity, and support for civil society.

The debt-reduction and development contract signed in July 2013 provides for the allocation to education, vocational training, water sanitation and financial governance of an envelope of €170 million over the 2014-2022 period, strengthening our cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo considerably.

As regards culture and the French language, France has four branches of the Institut Français in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: La Halle de la Gombe in Kinshasa, La Halle de l’Étoile in Lubumbashi, La Halle des Grands Lacs in Bukavu (since 2016) and La Halle des Volcans in Goma (since 2017). A network of several Alliance Française branches, including that in Kisangani, is also being relaunched, with the status of local associations. They aim to better address local expectations in expanding geographical areas. The René Descartes French school (Lycée) in Kinshasa was established in 1964. It is under contract with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE). The Lycée Blaise Pascal in Lubumbashi reopened in September 2009. These schools offer teaching at all levels and have a total of almost 1,250 pupils.

Updated: February 2018

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