UN threatens sanctions against DR Congo rebels

AFP, UNITED NATIONS

Sun, Oct 21, 2012 - Page 6

The UN Security Council has announced plans to impose sanctions against leaders of the M23 rebel movement for its attacks on civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo).

In what appeared to be a rebuke to neighboring Rwanda, it insisted on an end to outside backing for the movement.

A recent UN report accused Rwandan Minister of Defense General James Kabarebe of being the de facto commander of the M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo.

Friday’s Security Council statement called on M23 and other armed groups in the chronically unstable, but resource-rich region, including the Rwandan army, to “immediately cease all forms of violence and other destabilizing activities.”

“The Security Council expresses its intention to apply targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo,” it said.

It expressed “deep concern” that M23 was still receiving support from neighboring countries.

“The Security Council demands that any and all outside support to the M23, as well as other armed groups, cease immediately,” the statement said.

The council also called on all states in the region to condemn the M23 rebels and to work with the Kinshasa authorities to disarm all armed groups in the region.

UN investigators accuse both Rwanda and Uganda, which border eastern DR Congo, of arming and supporting the M23 rebels.

Rwanda has repeatedly denied accusations that it backs the fighters.

The M23 rebel force is made up of former fighters in the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), an ethnic Tutsi rebel movement.

The force emerged after an unsuccessful attempt to integrate CNDP fighters into the Congolese army under a 2009 peace deal.

The Security Council statement came a day after the UN General Assembly elected Rwanda as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. It begins its two-year mandate in January.

It follows an attack on Tuesday in which rebel fighters in eastern DR Congo wounded six Indian troops with MONUSCO, the UN mission there, and their interpreter.