Two Congo rebel groups blacklisted by UN committee
A United Nations Security Council sanctions committee has blacklisted two rebel groups responsible for war crimes in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The United States and Britain welcomed the move, with Washington suggesting that further sanctions could be imposed against anyone responsible for violence in eastern Congo.
One of the groups added to the blacklist is M23, a Congolese rebel faction led by Bosco Ntaganda, a warlord indicted by the International Criminal Court. M23 initially claimed that it took up arms over what it called Kinshasa’s failure to adhere to the terms of a 2009 peace deal that saw it integrated into the army. It later broadened its objectives, making its goal the “liberation” of all of Congo and the removal of President Joseph Kabila.
The UN statement said M23, widely believed to be receiving support from neighbouring Rwanda, has been complicit in serious crimes such as “killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction and forced displacement”.
No Rwandans have been sanctioned in connection with the group, which diplomats say is because the US in particular opposes any such moves as counterproductive.
The other rebel organisation hit with sanctions on Monday is the FDLR, or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. The FDLR is a Rwandan Hutu group that opposes President Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-led government in Kigali and includes Hutu militiamen suspected of participating in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
FDLR has been guilty of “targeting of women and children in armed conflict in the DRC, including killing and maiming, sexual violence, and forced displacement”, the UN statement said.
US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice welcomed the sanctions committee’s decision.
“We urge the rank and file of both the M23 and the FDLR to defect and demobilise in order to disassociate themselves from the sanctioned groups,” she said in a statement.
She said Washington and its partners “will continue to use every tool at our disposal to maintain the pressure on those responsible for the violence in the eastern DRC . . . including additional action by the Security Council”.
The committee’s announcement came hours before Rwanda joined the 15-nation Security Council. Rwanda has vowed to help improve the situation in eastern Congo during its stint on the council, but said it would not tolerate continued attempts to blame it for the M23 insurgency.
The Security Council’s “group of experts” has accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing M23. Kigali and Kampala deny the group’s allegations but council diplomats say their denials are not credible. As well as the two rebel groups, the sanctions committee blacklisted two additional M23 leaders on Monday: Eric Badege and Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero. The two men will face international travel bans and asset freezes.