Congo wants UN force to 'neutralize' rebels

August 31, 2012 - 8:45 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Congo said Friday it wants the U.N. peacekeeping force in the African country to "neutralize" a new rebel movement and a force that helped perpetrate Rwanda's 1994 genocide and protect the tense and porous border with neighboring Rwanda.

Congo's Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda N'tunga Mulongo also called on the Security Council to impose sanctions on those named in a U.N. report in July that accused high-ranking Rwandan officials of helping to create, arm and support the new M23 rebels within Congo — as well as the rebel movement's leaders.

Mulongo held a news conference after discussions this week with the Security Council and the panel that wrote the July report. Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who has vehemently denied the accusations, was also at U.N. headquarters this week meeting with the panel and council members.

Congo's mineral-rich east is facing the worst upsurge in fighting in years, which has forced some 280,000 people from their homes.

The fighting escalated in April when army deserters calling themselves the M23 Movement launched a rebellion to demand better pay, better armaments and amnesty from war crimes.

The conflict in the east is a spillover from the 1994 genocide. Hundreds who participated in the mass slaughter escaped into Congo and still fight there. The M23 rebels are an incarnation of a group of Congolese Tutsi set up to fight Rwandan Hutu rebels in Congo.

Mulongo said that all of Congo's borders are quiet except for the border with Rwanda, and instead of trying to introduce a second foreign force to help bring peace to the country his government wants the Security Council to beef up the mandate of the 22,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force.

He said the government envisions a special unit being created for a limited period of time — six to nine months — to try to get M23 and the FDLR, or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda led by Hutus who helped perpetrate Rwanda's 1994 genocide and escaped to Congo, to "simply stop what they're doing."