Uganda has denied allegations its army is arming the M23 rebels fighting against the Kinshasa government in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), joining Rwanda which has also refuted similar accusations.
The U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts said in a confidential report on Tuesday that Rwanda and Uganda, despite their denials, continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops.
The experts said that units of the Ugandan and Rwandan armies “jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July 2012 to take over the major towns in Rutshuru Territory, and the (Congolese army) base of Rumangabo.”
“Where’s the evidence for their claims? Some of those so-called experts came here and did not interview anyone,” he said. “Where’s their authentic facts to back those claims? Those accusations are absolute rubbish, hogwash.”
Olivier Nduhungirehe, senior Rwandan diplomat at the country’s U.N. mission, had a similar denial. He said the U.N. experts have been “allowed to pursue a political agenda that has nothing to do with getting at the true causes of conflict in the eastern DRC.”
Rwandan President Paul Kagame reiterated Rwanda’s denials at a high-level meeting in New York last month that both he and Congolese President Joseph Kabila attended.
M23 rebels led by Gen. Bosco Ntaganda in April launched a rebellion on the Government of President Kabila leading to the displacement of over 260,000 Congolese while another 60,000 have crossed to Uganda and Rwanda to seek refuge.
Uganda this month hosted regional leaders to discuss the conflict.
President Yoweri Museveni chaired the meeting in his capacity as current head of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
Other leaders who attended the summit at Munyonyo are; Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Vice Presidents, Dr Muhammed Gharib Bilal (Tanzania).
The summit in August considered establishing a neutral force tasked with crushing rebel groups in eastern Congo where fighting flared up, displacing thousands of people.
The leaders have discussed at least three types of force, according to a draft proposal to the summit.
- One option would see the region’s states contribute troops and funds. The African Union has said it is ready to contribute to such a force.
- A second option is “an international and regional force incorporated into MONUSCO, including a beefed up mandate as MONUSCO’s current mandate is limited to the protection of civilians.
- A third idea is an interim MONUSCO force, but the document did not specify if this would be in addition to the international and regional force.
The 11-nation ICGLR comprises Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.