News24

DRC wants UN to neutralise rebellion

2012-07-20 09:56

Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo wants the UN peacekeepers to fight the rebellion in its east, its foreign minister said on Thursday, after the country agreed with neighbouring Rwanda to accept an international intervention.

"[It is] very important that the mechanism be put in place very quickly and we must have results," said Raymond Tshibanda.

Tensions have been high between the DRC and Rwanda over the rebellion by a group of army mutineers, which Kinshasa accuses Kigali of sponsoring - a complaint supported by a UN panel of sanctions experts who said in June that Rwanda was supplying the rebels.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said on Sunday that he and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila had agreed to accept an international force to neutralise all armed groups in eastern DR Congo and patrol the border.

But details on the force, which Kagame said the two leaders agreed to "in principle" at a meeting on the sidelines of an African Union summit, are still being hammered out.

DRC already has one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world, Monusco, and Tshibanda suggested that using that force to fight militias and patrol the border would make sense.

"If it turns out that to move quickly it is necessary to use Monusco, which is already on the ground, we would be ready for anything... as long as Monusco's mandate was reviewed," he said.

Monusco has some 17 000 troops, deployed mainly in the chronically unstable but resource rich east to protect local residents.

"Monusco's rules of engagement would need to... allow it to use force when necessary to respond to the threat as it exists today," Tshibanda said, adding that Rwandan and Congolese soldiers would not be allowed to take part in the anti-rebel force.

The mutineers, known as the M23, are Tutsi ex-rebels from the Rwanda-backed National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).

They were integrated into the regular army in 2009 as part of a peace deal that followed their failed 2008 offensive on the eastern city of Goma.

But they mutinied in April, demanding better pay and the full implementation of the March 23, 2009 peace deal for which they are named. They have been engaged in running battles with the regular army in the eastern region of Kivu.