Rwanda, Uganda arming DRC rebels – UN

2012-10-17 10:22
M23 troops in the DRC (File, AFP)

M23 troops in the DRC (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Rwanda's defence minister is commanding a rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that is being armed by Rwanda and Uganda, both of which sent troops to aid the insurgency in a deadly attack on UN peacekeepers, according to a United Nations report.

The UN Security Council's Group of Experts said in a confidential report that Rwanda and Uganda - despite their strong denials - continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops in North Kivu province.

"Both Rwanda and Uganda have been supporting M23," said the 44-page report, which was seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

"While Rwandan officials coordinated the creation of the rebel movement as well as its major military operations, Uganda's more subtle support to M23 allowed the rebel group's political branch to operate from within Kampala and boost its external relations," it said.

Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese general wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, controls the rebellion on the ground and M23 leader Sultani Makenga is in charge of operations and coordination with allied armed groups, the UN report said.

Both Ntaganda and Makenga "receive direct military orders from RDF (Rwandan army) Chief of Defense staff General Charles Kayonga, who in turn acts on instructions from Minister of Defence General James Kabarebe", it said.

Uganda and Rwanda have denied the accusations of involvement by the UN experts, who monitor compliance with sanctions and an arms embargo on the DRC and delivered their report to the Security Council's Congo sanctions committee earlier this month.

"Rwandan officials exercise overall command and strategic planning for M23," the report said.

"Rwanda continues to violate the arms embargo through direct military support to M23 rebels, facilitation of recruitment, encouragement and facilitation of FARDC (Congolese army) desertions as well as the provision of arms and ammunition, intelligence, and political advice".

"UPDF (Ugandan army) commanders sent troops and weapons to reinforce specific M23 operations and assisted in M23's recruitment and weapons procurement efforts in Uganda," it said.

Peacekeeper killed

Nearly half a million people have been displaced due to the fighting. M23 has proven so resilient that one senior UN diplomatic source told Reuters that Rwanda has effectively "annexed" mineral-rich eastern Congo thanks to the rebel force.

The UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said last month that the rebels had set up de facto administration in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, controlling the people and collecting taxes.

The rebellion also is being funded by traders in Rwanda who are profiting from tin, tungsten and tantalum smuggled across the border from mines in the eastern DRC, according to the UN experts' report.

An interim report from the Group of Experts that was published in June raised similar accusations against Rwanda but with far less detail. Kigali was furious about that report, saying it was one-side and contained false allegations.

Rwanda has backed armed movements in the DRC during the past two decades, citing a need to tackle Rwandan rebels operating out of DRC’s eastern hills.

The new report said that M23 had expanded its control of Rutshuru Territory with extensive foreign support in July 2012 and had taken advantage of a recent informal ceasefire "to expand alliances and command proxy operations elsewhere."

The experts said that units of the Ugandan and Rwandan armies "jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July 2012 to take over the major towns in Rutshuru Territory, and the [Congolese army] base of Rumangabo".

During these attacks, the rebels killed a UN peacekeeper and fired on a UN peacekeeping base at Kiwanja.

"According to several M23 soldiers, RDF troops provided the rebels with heavy weapons such as 12.7 mm machine guns, 60 mm, 91 mm and 120 mm mortars, as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft launchers ahead of the attack," the report said.

"RDF Special Forces in Rutshuru also aided the rebels and fired 13 rounds on a FARDC [Congolese army] combat helicopter during the takeover of Kiwanja," it said.

Child soldiers

Ugandan military spokesperson Felix Kulayigye rejected the report.

"Where's the evidence for their claims? Some of those so-called experts came here and did not interview anyone," he said. "Where's their authentic facts to back those claims? Those accusations are absolute rubbish, hogwash."

Olivier Nduhungirehe, senior Rwandan diplomat at the country's UN mission, had a similar denial, which he sent to Reuters on Sunday. He said the UN experts have been "allowed to pursue a political agenda that has nothing to do with getting at the true causes of conflict in the eastern DRC".

Rwandan President Paul Kagame reiterated Rwanda's denials at a high-level meeting in New York last month that both he and Congolese President Joseph Kabila attended.

The Group of Experts said that it has corroborated its findings with multiple intelligence sources.

"Various South African Development Community (SADC), European, Ugandan, and Burundian intelligence agents also confirmed the group's findings concerning Rwandan violations of the (arms) embargo," the report said.

It added that the Rwandans have stepped up recruitment for M23, which has around 1,250 soldiers.

"M23 faces challenges in carrying out independent operations and controlling heavily guarded positions due to troop shortages," said the report.

It said the Rwandan army was targeting Rwandan demobilized soldiers and civilians and Congolese refugees to recruit for M23, while M23 itself has stepped up its use and recruitment of child soldiers. Since May, the experts said M23 has recruited some 250 children and killed dozens who tried to escape.

"Furthermore, certain M23 commanders have ordered the extrajudicial executions of dozens of recruits and prisoners of war," the report said.

"M23 uses boys on the frontlines as cover for advancing units, often after a week of training," the experts said. "Others act as porters, intelligence operatives and bodyguards. The rebels use young girls as cooks and as commanders' wives."

Read more on:    sadc  |  m23  |  joseph kabila  |  drc  |  uganda  |  rwanda
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.