DR Congo wants sanctions against Rwanda generals

Monday September 3 2012

Democratic Republic of Congo wants UN sanctions against top Rwandan generals for backing a rebellion against the Kinshasa government, its foreign minister indicated Friday.

DR Congo Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda said there was still a "war situation" between the two neighbors over the rebellion even though tensions have eased.

He called for boosting the UN peacekeeping force in the huge central African nation so it can monitor the border between the rivals.

Rwanda has strongly denied backing the M23 militia who launched a rebellion in the east of the country in April. But a panel of UN sanctions experts has cited "overwhelming evidence" of Rwandan backing for the mutineers.

"We are in a situation of aggression in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, aggression by the Republic of Rwanda," Tshibanda told a press conference at UN headquarters.

He said UN Security Council sanctions should be taken against "foreign personalities" mentioned in the June experts report as having helped the M23 rebels, but did not name the individuals.

At a Security Council meeting on Wednesday, however, Tshibanda highlighted the names of Rwanda's defense minister, General James Kabarebe, chief of staff Lieutenant General Charles Kayonga and other generals identified by the UN experts.

"The implication of high-ranking officials serving in a foreign army in support of a rebellion constitutes an act of aggression that the Security Council must recognize under Chapter VII of the UN Charter," he added at the meeting with the Security Council.

The leaders of countries in the Great Lakes region, which includes the two rivals, have agreed in principle to set up a "neutral force" to monitor the Rwanda-DR Congo border and hunt the militias in eastern DR Congo.

Tshibanda told reporters that leaders wanted the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in DR Congo, known as MONUSCO, to be strengthened so that it could take up the task.

Although he did not call for extra forces, he said MONUSCO's Security Council mandate should be changed and special forces should replace some of the current peacekeepers to monitor the border.

UN diplomats have expressed skepticism about the proposed force.

Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo also spoke with UN sanctions experts this week and complained that their evidence was biased.

Tshibanda said that while he had been in New York at the same time as the Rwandan minister, they had not held talks.