The U.N. Security Council has met in emergency session to consider evidence that Rwandan troops have crossed the border into eastern Congo. Congo's government is calling for sanctions against Rwanda's president.
Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno told the Security Council Thursday that Rwandan troops appear to be operating on Congolese territory.
The current Security Council President, Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali told reporters after the meeting that the apparent Rwandan incursion had been reported by the U.N. peacekeeping unit in Congo, known as MONUC.
"Mr. Guehenno informed the Council that according to MONUC, there were soldiers equipped with weapons that are in general, that the Rwandan army possess, so they assumed that they were from Rwanda, but there was no clear strong reporting by MONUC that we were really dealing with Rwandan troops," said Ambassador Baali
Ambassador Baali added that there was a general sense that the troops were Rwandan, but that it could not be confirmed in what he called "the clearest way".
After the meeting, Mr. Guehenno told reporters that, if confirmed, the Rwandan action would be a clear violation of international law. "Well, crossing borders, yes, is not in accordance with international law," he said.
Mr. Guehenno said he had no information on the number of Rwandan troops involved in the alleged incursion. He said the situation remains murky.
"The threat of the use of force is very much on the table, is very dangerous evolution and in that context we believe, and it was the general sense of the council that there is a need for everybody to exert maximum restraint," he said.
After hearing Mr. Guehenno's briefing, Security Council diplomats were preparing a statement strongly condemning the Rwandan incursion. The statement would fall short, however, of Congolese government calls to hold Rwandan President Paul Kagame personally responsible, and to impose sanctions on him and several associates.
Rwandan diplomats deny there has been any cross border troop movement. A Rwandan presidential adviser was quoted as calling the troop sightings "false."
Rwanda has twice before sent its troops into Congo, ostensibly to track down Hutu rebels, some of whom took part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
The latest reports have fueled fears of a renewed war in an area where three million people have died from genocide, war, hunger and disease in the past decade.