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Stop supporting DRC rebels, says Ban

28 February 2013, 08:28

New York – The UN leader Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that foreign countries are still backing rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and must face "consequences" over the instability there.

Ban made the call in a report in which he called for international support for an "intervention brigade" for eastern DRC, where the UN peacekeepers have struggled against armed groups such as M23.

The UN leader did not name countries aiding the rebels or say what action should be taken against them.

"Ongoing support to armed groups by neighbouring countries continues to be a source of serious instability and should have tangible consequences for the perpetrators." his report to the UN Security Council said.

The UN experts have said Rwanda and Uganda armed and assisted the M23 group in an uprising against government forces in eastern DRC and have called for action. Both countries deny the claims.

The report was completed after 11 African nations signed an accord on Sunday aiming to end two decades of strife in eastern DRC.

DRC vowed to take measures to increase security and government authority in its mineral-rich east. The 10 other countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, promised not to interfere in the affairs of their neighbours.

"I recognise that the legitimate concerns and interests of all neighbouring states must be taken into [account] as part of any lasting political settlement in the Great Lakes region," Ban said.

"External support to any of the armed groups operating in the eastern DRC is an unacceptable violation of [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC that severely undermines the stability of the region as a whole."

Decades of mismanagement

Ban said a special envoy for the Great Lakes that he plans to name will work to find ways "to guarantee non-interference in the internal affairs" of other states and neutralise the threat from armed groups prowling the region.

Ban gave more details on his plan for an intervention brigade in eastern DRC, which would be a special part of the UN peacekeeping mission Monusco.

"The intervention brigade would carry out targeted offensive operations" on its own and with the DRC army, said the report, adding that the mission would need two extra attack helicopters and four utility helicopters.

The UN peacekeeping officials say the intervention brigade would be 2 500 strong. Monusco currently has about 17 000 peacekeepers, making it the biggest wholly UN peacekeeping operation.

Ban's special brigade and the recent peace accord were a direct result of the uprising launched last year by the M23 group in North Kivu province. M23 briefly seized the regional capital Goma last year and still controls a chunk of territory near the frontier with Rwanda.

The UN leader said it was crucial for President Joseph Kabila's government to tighten its grip on the east and other isolated parts of the country by training a disciplined army and improving the police and judiciary.

However his report highlighted the "decades of mismanagement" and "widescale corruption" in DRC, which has undermined state authority.



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