Rwanda, Uganda ‘arm’ Congo rebels

Rwanda, Uganda ‘arm’ Congo rebels

Rwanda, Uganda ‘arm’ Congo rebels

An M23 rebel holds his gun. A UN report has claimed that Uganda helps rebels. AP photo

Rwanda’s defense minister is commanding a rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that is being armed by Rwanda and Uganda, both of which sent troops to aid the insurgency in a deadly attack on U.N. peacekeepers, according to a U.N. report.

The U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts said in a confidential report that Rwanda and Uganda - despite their strong denials - continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops in North Kivu province.

“Both Rwanda and Uganda have been supporting M23,” said the 44-page report, which was seen by Reuters on Oct. 16.

“While Rwandan officials coordinated 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. Both Bosco Ntaganda, who controls the rebellion on the ground and M23 leader Sultani Makenga, who is in charge of operations and coordination with allied armed groups, “receive direct military orders from Rwandan army Chief of Defense staff General Charles Kayonga,” the U.N. report said.

Uganda and Rwanda have denied the accusations. “Rwandan officials exercise overall command and strategic planning for M23,” the report said. “Rwanda continues to violate the arms embargo through direct military support to M23 rebels, facilitation of recruitment, encouragement and facilitation of Congolese army desertions as well as the provision of arms and ammunition, intelligence, and political advice.”

Nearly half a million people have been displaced due to the fighting.