Rwanda defence chief leads DR Congo rebels, UN report says

M23 rebel in North Kivu town of Rubare near Rutshuru. 5 Aug 2012 M23 rebels are named after a failed peace agreement signed on 23 March three years ago

Rwanda's defence minister is effectively commanding a rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN experts say.

The confidential report, leaked to Reuters agency, says Uganda is also backing the M23 rebels, who have been fighting the DRC's army since April.

The document builds on a UN report published in June which accused Rwanda of supporting the insurgents.

Rwanda and Uganda strenuously deny supporting the rebellion.

The BBC's Barbara Plett, at the UN, says that during the past two decades Rwanda has backed armed groups in the east of DR Congo as a way to fight Hutu rebels who fled there after the genocide of the 1990s.

Some accuse Rwanda of using militias as proxies in an on-going battle for the region, which is rich in minerals, our correspondent adds.

'Co-ordinated the rebels'

The latest report by the UN Security Council's Group of Experts provides more details of Rwanda's alleged continued involvement.

It says M23 leaders "receive direct military orders" from Rwanda's chief of defence staff, Gen Charles Kayonga, "who in turn acts on instructions from the minister of defence", Gen James Kabarebe.


It also says Kigali has supplied the M23 with heavy weapons and stepped up recruitment for the group.

Both Rwandan and Ugandan officials have strongly denied the accusations made in the report.

Olivier Nduhungirehe, a senior Rwandan diplomat at the country's UN mission, said the United Nations experts had been "allowed to pursue a political agenda that has nothing to do with getting at the true causes of conflict in the eastern DRC".

Uganda's foreign minister, Henry Okello Oryem, told the BBC that the UN was seeking to blame others for the failure of its own peacekeeping force in the eastern Congo.

But the the DRC's ambassador to the UK, Kikaya Bin Karubi, said the UN "must act" on the basis of the report.

He told the BBC's Newsday programme: "When the chief of staff of an army, a minister of defence of a country creates a rebellion, supplies weapons, sends troops to fight against a legitimate government across the border, I think this is serious."

The report - seen by Reuters news agency on Tuesday - says army units from Rwanda and Uganda have helped M23 expand its control of territory in eastern DR Congo.

"Both Rwanda and Uganda have been supporting M23," according to the 44-page report.

Displaced villagers at Kanyaruchinya camp near Goma Thousands have been displaced by fighting between troops and rebels

"While Rwandan officials co-ordinated the creation of the rebel movement as well as its major military operations, Uganda's more subtle support to M23 allowed the rebel group's political branch to operate from within Kampala and boost its external relations," it said.

The UN report says former Congolese General Bosco Ntaganda controls the rebellion on the ground and M23 leader Col Sultani Makenga is in charge of co-ordination with allied groups.

But it says M23's de facto chain of command culminates with Rwanda's defence minister.

Gen Ntaganda, who is known as "the Terminator" and is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes, has fought for various militias over the years.

The rebellion started in April, when a militia that had been absorbed into the Congolese army mutinied and went on the rampage in the eastern part of the country.

Since then nearly half a million people have been displaced by fighting between the M23 and the army.

The violence has drawn international condemnation and the US and some European countries have withheld aid from Rwanda.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The first defections from FARDC took place in June 2011, when a force of ex-Pareco nationalist Congolese militiamen went on the rampage in Nakiele, South Kivu, raping 297 women. This was reported by the BBC. It has been covered up by Kinshsa, and the Security Council is fully aware. Why does the UN not condemn the ongoing mass slaughter of Congolese by Congolese?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Interesting; so the UN experts are not aware that the M23 political wing goes to Uganda as part of the regional ICGLR effort to peacefully resolve the conflict? That they are in Kampala with the blessing and full knowledge of all the leaders in the region? What a bunch of "experts"!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The involvemnt of neighboring countries & foriegn powers in the Region is driven by DR Congo's natural resource & the lucrative arms sale by outsiders where every body wants to have the share of the pie. The conflict can be stopped but interest always prevails.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I have been trying to warn the International Community about Kagame and Museveni hidden Agenda vs DRC. They're good at blaming others to mask their real intention i.e annexing north/south KIVU, infact they might be toying with an idea of trying to convience Internation Community that DRC is too big a country it should be divided into two to emulate Sudan. Be warned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    UN is riddled with corruption. this is just a distraction so they can justify the billions pumped into the MONUSCO mission which is yielding no resutlts. its a fabrication of the multinationals that rake in billions every year in supplies and equipment. experts??!!! which experts? just a bunch of paid hands to skey the opinions of those in the dark

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The UN is riddled with corruption. they cant justify the huge bill of MONUSCO so they blame small countries. all this is just a smoke screen to justify the billions pumped into the useless UN mission in congo... it's all a fabrication of the west multinational businesses that rake in billions in supplies and equipment. which experts are these who produce a report before going to DRC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Take Museveni of Uganda, and Kagame of Rwanda out of office, send them to the ICC to answer to crimes against humanity. Instead what we get is pacification from the United States and Europe who fund these dictators because of they fight their war in Somalia. So these veto wielding powers on the UN look the other way to suffering in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo of gross human rights violations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Most African leaders are the root causes of African problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @Andy: could you explain to me how a "level of autonomy to Eastern Congo" will solve the current crisis that you conveniently call an "ethnic conflict?. Besides, there hasn't been any attack on Rwanda from the "armed Hutus" since 1998. Uganda and Rwanda have occupied the region almost continuously since 1996 without solving "the armed Hutus" issue; which means that they have other objectives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    This dispute must be resolved by negotiation. It is an ethnic conflict but the Western world and UN keep calling it a conflict between states! Rwanda and Uganda will never be able to stop their ethnic Tutsi generals from supporting their Tutsi brothers in Congo until the Congolese government moves the armed Hutus away from the border or offers some level of autonomy to Eastern Congo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    What we have here, are three dictators that must be removed from power.This news is old news that the UN have known for the past six months and yet have done northing about.People are still being killed,woman and young girls, even as young as one,are still being raped.If it was americans or English people dying it would be considerd as crimes of terror.May God have mercy on Africa.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The African Union has to be the most corrupt and useless organisation including the Arab League. Everyone blames the UN - but aren't representatives from the above not in the UN?

    It would appear that ALL the above go through the motions for their salaries - yet who is accountable for the misery and destruction of ordinary people caused by dictators, extremists and their militia across Africa?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    #24 Sadly AKs are lighter and easier to use too plus have minimal parts which need cleaning. Ideal for use by children. Because everyone uses them ammo is easy to come by too (the guy you shot is probably carrying 7.62mm intermediate too) Fancy western rifles might be more accurate but maintenance and ammo resupply make them impractical for bush wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    22 Peter_Sym
    Good point well made.

    I make that 13 x AK-47's for the price of 1x SA-80.

    Bargain...or not, depending who is on the receiving end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Why is the U.N so concerned like it even cares? What im sure of is that all these foreign organizations have got interest in everything they get involved in. what is the work of the A.U?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    21. Isitonlyme
    The arms dealers in the West must be falling over themselve to be first in line to sell guns 'n' ammo.
    They might be, but they're rarely successful. Its Russian (and Chinese & Pakistani made copies) of AK-47s used in the vast majority of African wars. $50 for a Chinese AK-47. £650 for a UK made SA-80.... and the AK is more reliable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    The arms dealers in the West must be falling over themselve to be first in line to sell guns 'n' ammo.

    As long as african states have corrupt officials / despots and western corporations (& increasingly China) eager to do business with them to strip Africa of its resouces, then no nation is even going to attempt to help clean up the mess endemic across the whole continent.

    It's really sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    UN is most biased organization I have ever seen. For the Arabs, rebels are branded peaceful demonstrators and for Africans they are called Terminators, destroyers, terrorists etc.........

    First of all close down your weapon plants and see where AFRICA will get weapons for destroying themselves.

    The fact is DR Congo is a world supermarket. Even those backing like dogs have interests in Congo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Is anyone going to leak a report saying what the UN is planning on doing about the revolt? I doubt such a report even exists because the UN has a miserable record at stopping such wars.

    Tony Blair has many, many flaws but at least he managed to resolve the civil war in Sierra Leone (in a few weeks with a few thousand troops). Thats more than the UN can claim

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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