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UN experts: “substantial evidence” of Rwandan forces in Congo


UNITED NATIONS – UN experts say they have found “substantial evidence” of Rwandan government forces entering neighboring eastern Congo, either to reinforce the M23 rebels or to carry out military operations against another rebel group that includes fighters accused of participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

According to excerpts from the expert panel’s latest report obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, weapons, ammunition and uniforms were also supplied to the M23 rebels. The group resurfaced more than a year ago and have been accused of killing civilians and seizing land in Rutshuru territory in eastern Congo.

The group of experts said it also found “substantial evidence” of support for several Congolese armed groups by members of the Congolese army, known as the FARDC, in Rutshuru. He said there was “cooperation between FARDC units and Congolese armed groups in Rutshuru territory”.

At the origin of the current crisis between Rwanda and Congo is the genocide of 1994.

The carnage began when a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down, killing the leader who, like most Rwandans, was a Hutu.

The country’s Tutsi minority was blamed, and although they denied it, bands of Hutu extremists began killing them, including children, with the support of the army, police and militias Rwandans.

The genocide killed more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus who tried to protect them. Thousands of Hutus fled to eastern neighboring Congo.

Rwanda’s current President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi and former opposition military commander, is widely credited with stopping the genocide, but has become a polarizing figure in recent years, accused of leading an authoritarian government that crushes any dissent.

The M23 rebels are largely ethnic Congolese Tutsis who rose to prominence 10 years ago when their fighters took over Goma, the largest town in eastern Congo on the border with Rwanda. The group takes its name from a March 23, 2009 peace accord, which it accuses the Congolese government of not implementing.

The FDLR movement, also mentioned by the panel of experts, is a Hutu rebel group opposed to Tutsi influence which is believed to include Hutus who participated in the genocide in Rwanda.

Renewed attacks by M23 rebels have angered the Congolese government and led to talk of war in eastern Congo, a volatile region rich in minerals essential to much of the world’s technology. This month, the United Nations accused the rebels of having massacred more than 130 civilians in two villages.

Earlier this week, France and Germany joined international pressure on Rwanda, openly accusing the country of supporting rebels in eastern Congo, which could have repercussions on foreign aid, including the Rwanda benefits for a long time.

The Rwandan government released a statement on Wednesday calling accusations that it supports M23 “false” and part of a “tired blame game” undermining regional leaders’ efforts to find a lasting peace, “to which Rwanda is fully attached”.

He accused the Congolese government of failing to deal with “more than 130 armed groups on its territory” and of failing to hold Congolese soldiers accountable for serious abuses against civilians and “the remnant genocidal FDLR militia, which been preserved for decades” in the country.

The statement cites cross-border attacks on Rwanda by Congolese troops and the FDLR, says Rwanda hosts more than 800,000 Congolese refugees in camps, many of them for more than 20 years, and accuses the peacekeeping mission of the UN which has been in eastern Congo for more than 22 years and costs more than a billion dollars a year to obtain “little tangible results”.

M23 rebels withdrew from territory they had seized in eastern Congo on Friday, a welcome first withdrawal, but regional experts said it was only a fraction of the territory they had seized. they controlled. M23 positions in Kibumba, North Kivu, were taken over by the new East African Regional Force charged with protecting the area.

Lawrence Kanyuka, political spokesman for M23, said in a statement that the withdrawal was in line with an agreement reached last month at a summit in Angola.

At the Nov. 23 summit, which was attended by the Congolese president and Rwandan foreign minister, leaders called for a ceasefire in eastern Congo, followed by a rebel withdrawal from key towns under their control. M23 – Bunagana, Rutshuru and Kiwanja.

washingtonpost Gt

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