Rwanda backs M23 rebels in DRC: UN expert | Conflict news

A UN team of experts found ‘solid evidence’ that Kigali was supporting the M23 fighters despite repeated denials.

The Rwandan army attacked the soldiers inside the DRC and provided support M23 . rebel group with weapons and support, a UN panel of experts said, citing “solid evidence” though Kigali repeated the rebuttal.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo repeatedly accuses Rwanda of supporting the militia, which stems from the failure that lasted from The 1994 genocide in Rwanda and has captured much of the territory in recent months. Kigali repeatedly denied supporting the M23 and the armed group that maintained it did not receive Rwandan support.

A 131-page report by UN Security Council experts shows that Rwanda has been conducting military interventions inside Congo since at least November 2021, providing “military reinforcements” for specific M23 operations, “especially when these operations are intended to capture strategic town and regions”.

DRC government spokesman Patrick Muyaya welcomed the work of the UN team on Thursday. “In the end, the truth always wins. We hope that a conclusion will be quickly reached to end Rwanda’s intervention and bring lasting peace,” Muyaya wrote on Twitter.

UN experts have found evidence that the M23 fighters and the Rwandan army “jointly attacked” a large number of DRC Army Base in Rumangaboin the eastern province of North Kivu, on May 25, the day after Rwandan forces entered the DRC.

An estimated 1,000 Rwandan troops also cut off the main highway leading to the provincial capital of Goma, an important trading hub on the Rwandan border, and attacked Congolese positions.

“On repeated occasions, aerial images show large columns of up to 500 armed people in the vicinity of the DRC, Rwandan and Uganda borders, moving in a very fluid manner,” said the team of experts. organizing.

The military columns, the report added, wore “standard military uniforms” that closely resembled Rwandan military uniforms.

Some 300 Rwandan troops have also conducted operations against insurgent groups in the eastern DRC, such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu rebel group that Kigali considers a threat.

The UN report also shows the Congolese military supporting militias operating in the east of the country.

The report said a coalition of armed groups was formed in May with the knowledge of Congolese officers. The leaders of several militias confirmed to experts that the Congolese army had provided them with weapons and ammunition “in some cases”, it added.

The DRC and Rwanda have had strained relations since mass Rwandan Hutus were accused of killing Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The M23 was founded in 2012 claiming to defend the interests of the Congo Tutsis, an ethnic group of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, against Hutu militias.

Since May, the M23 has waged its longest offensive in years, killing dozens and leaving tens of thousands of people displaced. By July, it controlled a territory nearly three times as large as in March, the UN group said.

The rise of the M23 has increased tensions in the region and prompted deadly protests against the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC, which civilians accuse of failing to protect them.

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