THE UN yesterday released the highly anticipated report accusing the Rwandan military of commanding and supporting M23 rebels that overtook Goma city on Tuesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report says the rebel leadership can be traced to Rwanda’s Defence Minister James Kabarebe.
Uganda is also backing the M23 rebels – some 1250 troops defected from the Congolese armed forces – the report issued on Wednesday said.
The report’s release, a day after the violent takeover of Goma, should increase pressure on the international community to confront the two African countries over their role in neighbouring Congo’s conflict.
It also comes at a time when DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila was meeting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame in Kampala over the fall of Goma.
Both Rwanda and Uganda have repeatedly denied supporting the M23 movement and have faced little international criticism over the allegations.
The UN group of experts report said both Rwanda and Uganda have “cooperated to support the creation and expansion of the political branch of M23 and have consistently advocated on behalf of the rebels. M23 and its allies include six sanctioned individuals, some of whom reside in or regularly travel to Rwanda and Uganda”.
The document said Rwanda is funneling weapons and reinforcements to the M23 rebels, facilitating recruitment and encouraging desertions from the Congolese armed forces.
The de facto chain of command of M23 ends with Rwandan Defence Minister General James Kabarebe it said.
M23 is “a Rwandan creation,” said Steven Hege, a member of the group of experts.
He said Rwandan soldiers and commanders embedded with M23 take orders from Rwanda, not the rebels.
Hege said the group of experts submitted to the security council a confidential list of individuals recommended for sanctions.
Rwanda has been elected by the UN General Assembly to serve a two-year position on the 15-member security council beginning in January, which will complicate efforts by the council to come to grips with the country’s intervention in Congo.
The security council voted unanimously on Tuesday to impose travel bans, assets freezes and other sanctions on the leaders of M23 and called for an end to external support for the rebellion, but without naming Rwanda or Uganda.
Rwanda’s representative spoke to the council after the vote to deny that his country is involved in the Congolese rebellion.
Uganda has previously denied involvement and said it would pull its troops out of UN peacekeeping operations if it was named in the report.