DR Congo warns Rwanda of ‘rupture’ over rebellion backing
Democratic Republic of Congo warned Wednesday that the presence of Rwandan fighters in an anti-government mutiny could unleash new hostilities between the neighbors.
DR Congo Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda said in a letter to the UN Security Council that evidence of Rwandan involvement meant the crisis in the east of the country was “evolving dangerously toward a rupture of the peace” between the neighbors.
Tshibanda said the 15-nation Security Council must “remind Rwanda of its international obligations and demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of armed forces members hiding in the ranks of the rebellion.”
The DR Congo government has stepped up complaints in recent weeks about the Rwanda link to the mutineers who have followed Bosco Ntaganda, a renegade general who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.
An estimated few hundred fighters are now holed up in the Virunga national park in eastern DR Congo, near the frontier with Rwanda, according to the Congo government.
Tshibanda said that between 200 and 300 of the rebels were recruited in Rwanda and some were minors.
“It appears that Rwandan territory was used to prepare and perpetrate a conspiracy which, having started as a simple mutiny, is evolving dangerously toward a rupture of the peace between two countries of the Great Lakes region, threatening progress made since 2009,” the minister said in the letter.
The rebel fighters were incorporated into the DR Congo army in 2009 as part of a peace deal in the troubled, but mineral-rich eastern region. They quit the army this year in a dispute over salaries and poor conditions.
UN Security Council sanctions experts have prepared a report which DR Congo ambassador Ileka Atoki said “documented military support coming from Rwanda to the so-called mutineers.”
Atoki and rights groups said some members of the 15-nation council had tried to prevent publication of the report to protect Rwanda.