The Democratic Republic of Congo has formally asked neighboring Uganda to explain what role it may be playing in the growing insecurity in the restive North Kivu province, according to information minister Lambert Mende.
Mende’s comments followed a report by the U.N. Security Council's Group of Experts, which accused both Rwanda and Uganda of supporting a group of former solders, called M23 that is fighting Congo’s army. Both Uganda and Rwanda have rejected the report.
“We are now sharing with our colleagues in Uganda to ask them their position about these Uganda officials who are also named in the report,” said Mende.
“We are very eager to know what measures they are going to take on those people, maybe to punish them or not. And following the action from our Ugandan counterpart, we will have an idea, or know, if this is a governmental hostile action against our country.”
Analysts say there appears to be growing diplomatic tension between Kinshasa and Kigali following accusations that Rwanda had been supporting M23 rebels fighting the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in Kivu province.
“As far as Rwanda is concerned, this is confirming of what we were very aware off. This is something that is masterminded by government officials from Rwanda as the report says. The minister of defense himself is commanding this M23,” said Mende.
He said the DRC government has asked the Security Council to expedite sanctions Rwanda.
“We really need badly these sanctions to be imposed on all those who are named in this report.”
But in an interview with VOA, Rwanda’s foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Kigali is cooperating with Kinshasa.
“One of the areas that Rwanda and Congo have worked very hard on after we normalized relations [is making] sure that we continue to talk -- that our security and defense leaders meet often, talk often, work together, have joint operations in the region,” Mushikiwabo said.
“We also very much put time and value into security in both countries… We take security very seriously, and that is how Rwanda has been able to move away from insecurity and even to grow so much, economically.”
Information minister Mende said Rwanda’s denial is not believable. He called on the U.N. Security Council to speed up a decision on sanctions against Rwanda.
“People are dying; properties are being destroyed, and people are being displaced. So, we think that the sooner [sanctions are imposed] the better. Because we think that the Security Council must take into account the necessity of saving human lives. So, they should act as quickly as possible.”
According to humanitarian agencies, the growing insecurity in North Kivu province has increased the number of internally displaced people to 218,000.