Congo demands sanctions on foreign officials accused of backing M23 rebels

17 Oct

Reuters in Kinshasa, Wednesday 17 October 2012 14.39 BST

Democratic Republic of Congo responds to UN report accusing Rwandan defence minister and others of supporting M23 rebels

The M23 rebel group has been expanding into Congo’s mineral-rich North Kivu province, displacing nearly 500,000 people in the process. Photograph: James Akena/Reuters

The Democratic Republic of Congo has demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials accused by a UN panel of experts of backing a six-month-old insurgency in its volatile eastern borderlands.

The UN security council panel said in a confidential report seen by Reuters that both Rwanda and Uganda were supporting the M23 rebels, who are expanding their control of parts of Congo’s mineral-rich North Kivu province.

The experts, who monitor compliance with UN sanctions and an arms embargo on Congo, singled out the Rwandan defence minister, General James Kabarebe, as heading M23’s de facto chain of command.

They also said that senior Ugandan officials had provided M23 with “troop reinforcements … weapons deliveries, technical assistance, joint planning, political advice and facilitation of external relations”.

Felix Kulayigye, a Ugandan military spokesman, dismissed the panel’s findings as “absolute rubbish” while the senior Rwandan diplomat Olivier Nduhungirehe said the UN experts had “been allowed to pursue a political agenda”.

Congo’s government spokesman, Lambert Mende, said that those named in the report as backing the rebellion should be placed under UN sanctions.

“It’s more important than ever, as now we have proof that the drama in North Kivu is being manipulated by criminals who hold positions of power,” he told Reuters.

“We’ve taken note of this report, which confirms what we already know about Rwanda and contains new information about Uganda … We’re in contact with our neighbours in Uganda over these very serious allegations,” he said.

Kinshasa has regularly accused Kigali of meddling in Congo since an interim report in June revealed Rwandan links to the rebels, but Uganda has recently played a central role in attempts to broker a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced by the fighting between M23 and the DRC army this year.

Rwanda twice invaded its much larger western neighbour in the late 1990s in what it said was the pursuit of Hutu fighters responsible for a 1994 genocide that killed around 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Uganda also sent troops across the border during a 1998-2003 war in which millions of people died.

 

Source: The Guardian

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