Kigali – The UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that Rwanda
was key to ensuring peace in volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as
he toured the region to boost a new accord to end decades of violence.
A UN-brokered accord, signed in February by 11 regional
countries after a bloody uprising by DRC’s M23 rebels, is hoped to quell long
running conflict in mineral-rich eastern Congo, which neighbours Rwanda.
That deal "is the best chance for peace in many
years," Ban told reporters in the Rwandan capital where is visiting as
part of a regional tour.
"I am appealing to all leaders to play their part...
Rwanda is critical to the framework success," he added.
Rwanda plays a key role in the region, and has been accused
by the UN of backing M23 fighters, claims that it has denied.
His visit to the region follows a renewal of deadly fighting
between rebels and Congo's government forces that ended months of relative calm
in the war-torn region.
On Thursday Ban toured the flashpoint Congolese city of
Goma, which remained calm during his trip.
Both Kinshasa and the M23 have accused each other of
launching hostilities and trying to scupper peace efforts in the restive east.
The latest bout of fighting near Goma, which was briefly
seized by the M23 rebel group in an armed uprising last year despite the
presence of a large UN peacekeeping force, has sent thousands of people
Africa's deadliest wars
Ban had said earlier this week that deployment of a UN
intervention force made up of about 3 000 African troops should be accelerated
in view of the fresh unrest, with its deployment expected in "about one or
The force made up of Tanzanian, Malawian and South African
soldiers was approved by the UN Security Council in March as its first ever
"offensive" peacekeeping brigade.
Despite its vast mineral wealth, the DRC - which covers an
area roughly the size of western Europe - is ranked by the UN as the world's least developed
and has been devastated by some of Africa's deadliest wars.
On Thursday, Ban visited a memorial in Kigali to Rwanda's
1994 genocide, saying he had been "moved to tears", accepting that
the UN had "failed in Rwanda" at that time, and vowing to work to
ensure "peace and development throughout the Great Lakes region".
Some of those who carried out Rwanda's genocide - ethnic
Hutu extremists - have since formed rebel groups in eastern DRC.
Ban is due to later travel on to neighbouring Uganda, which
also plays an influential role in the region.
The M23 rebellion in the east last year, which led to the
brief capture of Goma in November, threatened to drag the region into a fresh
fully-fledged war amid claims by the United Nations and Kinshasa that Rwanda
and Uganda are backing the M23.
The M23 - a largely ethnic Tutsi group of former army
defectors - has vowed to retaliate if attacked by UN troops but said it does
not intend to retake Goma.
The UN has accused the M23 of a string of rights abuses
including arbitrary executions, forced disappearances, degrading treatment and
rape of civilians.