News / Africa

    Rwanda Says UN Ultimatum Threatened Congo Peace Talks

    Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo gestures during an interview with The Associated Press at the Rwandan Embassy in Washington, (File photo).
    Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo gestures during an interview with The Associated Press at the Rwandan Embassy in Washington, (File photo).
    Reuters
    Rwanda said on Wednesday the decision by a U.N. intervention brigade to forcibly disarm people in a strategic zone of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo had surprised African leaders and risked jeopardizing peace talks.
     
    The U.N. peacekeeping mission said on Tuesday it was setting up a security zone around Goma, which briefly fell into M23 hands last year, and would disarm, by force if needed, anyone carrying weapons after a 48-hour grace period.
     
    “We're worried that such a threat could have easily derailed the peace talks going on in Kampala,” Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told reporters at a regional summit, speaking in English.
     
    Mushikiwabo, whose country is widely believed to support the M23 rebellion, said leaders at the summit in Nairobi expressed their strong support for negotiations held in Uganda between Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 rebels.
     
    Some diplomats, however, said the talks have stalled.
     
    Rwanda denies backing M23. It has also alleged that commanders of the newly deployed special force with a mandate to neutralize armed groups like M23 have met with Rwandan Hutu rebels camped in eastern Congo's borderlands.
     
    The M23 rebels began taking large swaths of Congo's volatile east early last year, accusing the central government of failing to honor a previous peace deal, and dealt a serious blow to the image of the U.N. MONUSCO peacekeepers.
     
    The brief fall of Goma to the rebels prompted the formation of a more robust intervention brigade within MONUSCO.
     
    MONUSCO said on Wednesday the security zone operation would not amount to an offensive targeting a specific armed group.
     
    “This zone is to protect civilians,” said Lieutenant Colonel Prosper Basse, MONUSCO's military spokesman.
     
    Another U.N. source told Reuters the operation would try to clear up small pockets of M23 fighters who remained near Goma after the rebels were pushed several kilometers further north during recent clashes.
     
    The latest flare-up in fighting between Congolese government forces and M23 earlier this month raised tensions again with Rwanda after Congo accused Rwandan specialist units of aiding M23 in the fighting.
     
    “The renewed fighting raises concern over the commitment of the parties to the [Kampala] talks,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told the summit. “We want them to resume and conclude quickly.”
     
    The M23 rebels are demanding an amnesty and reintegration into the national army, as well as political concessions. Some delegates at the Nairobi summit said privately that a wide gulf still separated the two sides.
     
    Rwanda on Tuesday dismissed U.S. charges it was supporting the rebellion, telling Reuters at the summit that leveling such accusations was unhelpful.
     
    Congo's foreign minister, Raymond Tshibanda, said, however, that the fact that the conflict was taking place in the east, far from the capital, “showed the importance of external factors to the conflict.”

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mulumba Paul
    August 06, 2013 12:47 PM
    TO Anonymous: Even if the Kagame regime is presented with a picture of himself crossing to support M23 troops in Congo, he will probably deny it and say it was fabricated by human rights watch. The Kagame regime lying spree is shameful to say the least...
    By the way the proof of Rwanda support to M23 is below and the whole world including the US, which taxpayers money Rwanda continue to enjoy while their proxies M23 are committing human rights abuses is below: http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/07/22/dr-congo-m23-rebels-kill-rape-civilians

    by: Mulumba Paul
    August 02, 2013 12:37 PM
    TO Anonymous: Of course the governance in DRC needs improving but that is not a reason to allow Kagame and Museveni regimes to take advantage of the situation...
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 05, 2013 4:23 AM
    Mulumba, Kagame and Museveni taking advantage is an accusation that needs factual backing from you. From there we can discuss then, otherwise political blame game has been in play as regards the issues in the Congo, and the real issue in DRC will never be addressed until the failing nation itself owns the problem and give it the right solution.

    by: Mulumba Paul
    August 01, 2013 4:44 PM
    So Rwanda is making a mockery of western nations, including the US and is also making a mockery of the UN in which its sits in the Security council. And US taxpayers money is still flowing to support Kagame regime which support human rights abuses in Congo...pathetic...For the sake in peace in the Grand Lake Region, someone stop Kagame and Meuseveni p[olicies
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 02, 2013 10:12 AM
    @Mulumba Paul, Kagame and Museveni are not the problems of Congo. Congo has the poorest leaders the continent has seen and the western nations use their idiocy to plunder the country. They will tell Kabila that his problem is Kagame or somebody else and he goes to the holiday leaving the country under the mercy of colonialists. If u really follow politics in the GLR, you will realize that Congo itself is a problem before crying foul of foreign aggression.

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