Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

UN extends Congo peacekeeping role

The UN Security Council have renewed a peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo for one year, demanding an end to outside support for a mutiny that UN experts claim is aided by neighbouring Rwanda.

The resolution, adopted unanimously, does not name Rwanda. It condemns "all outside support to all armed groups and demands that all forms of support to them cease immediately".

A soon-to-be released report accuses Rwanda of violating sanctions and an arms embargo by supporting the M23 rebel group linked to GeneralBosco Ntaganda, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

An unpublished annex to an interim report by the UN Group of Experts, provided to the Associated Press, found evidence Rwanda is "providing material and financial support to armed groups operating in the Eastern DRC, including the recently established M23".

It also accused Rwanda of "direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory" and of recruiting "Rwandan youth and demobilised ex-combatants", for the rebel group.

On Monday, Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo dismissed claims her country was supporting the rebellion in the eastern Congo, saying that Rwanda was being used as a "scapegoat" for its neighbour's bloody conflict.

Eastern Congo has been engulfed in fighting since the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which at least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militias before a Tutsi-led rebel army took power. More than a million Hutus fled across the border into the Congo, and Rwanda twice invaded to take action against Hutu militias.

The most recent wave of violence flared with the arrival of M23, who were former rebels from the Tutsi ethnic group linked to Gen Ntaganda, who claimed that they were not being paid and that the government had failed to hold up their end of the 2009 peace deal that integrated them into the army.

Ntaganda is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court and had been living freely and wearing the stripes of a Congolese army general but is now being pursued by the government.

The Congolese military launched an offensive in April against the M23 mutineers. Nearly 20,000-strong, the UN peacekeeping force has been in the Democratic Republic of Congo over a decade.

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