In DR Congo, Macron pledges aid, warns of sanctions if peace efforts are derailed

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday pledged 34 million euros ($36 million) as part of an EU aid package to conflict-hit eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. On the final stop in Kinshasa of his four-nation African tour, Macron said any party seeking to derail peace efforts should face sanctions.

During an official visit to DR Congo, where perceptions of French support for neighbouring Rwanda have stoked anti-French sentiments in the eastern regions, Macron was asked to condemn Rwanda.

"I have been very clear about the condemnation of the M23 and those who support it," said Macron, referring to the M23 rebel group. Congo accuses Rwanda of backing the group. Rwanda denies the allegation.

A peace process brokered by regional powers in Angola in November has so far failed to end the fighting, but Macron said he had confidence in the plan.

"If they do not respect it, then yes there can be sanctions," he said without naming any particular party.

Macron also pledged 34 million euros to a new EU humanitarian aid initiative for the central African nation.

EU sets up air bridge to Goma

The EU on Saturday announced that it was setting up a "humanitarian air bridge" to deliver aid to the conflict-hit eastern regions.

The air bridge will link with Goma, the capital of DR Congo's eastern North Kivu province, where fighting with the M23 has displaced more than 600,000 people.

He added that there are "legitimate hopes" for a de-escalation in the turbulent region.

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