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DR Congo: UN Chief Expresses Worry Over Fighting Between Govt. Troops, M23

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has expressed deep concern over the increase in the fight between government troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the 23 March Movement (M23) rebels in the east.

The fight, in 10 days, has seen multiple civilians killed, “massive displacement” and four peacekeepers from the UN Stabilisation Mission (MONUSCO) injured.
Guterres, in a statement by his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, on Monday stated that two UN peacekeepers were injured by mortar fire.

He said two others were injured by small arms during attacks by M23 on Saturday on one of the reportedly captured towns, Kiwanja in North Kivu, while carrying out their protection mandate.

“MONUSCO recalls that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes and that it will spare no effort to prosecute those responsible before national and/or international courts.

“The Mission strongly condemns the hostile actions of the M23 and their serious consequences on the civilian populations.

“It calls on this rebel group to immediately cease all belligerence and warns that it stands ready to retaliate vigorously in the event of new aggression on its bases,” said Dujarric.

He said the UN chief had spoken with the President of Angola, João Lourenço, DRC President, Félix Tshisekedi, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the President of Kenya, William Ruto, and the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, as Chairperson of the African Union.

Over the weekend, according to news reports, the DRC ordered the Rwandan ambassador to leave the country within 48 hours, after accusing Kigali once again of supporting the M23 rebels, a claim which has been repeatedly denied by Rwanda.

“The secretary-general called for immediate de-escalation and reiterated the full support of the United Nations for the ongoing mediation,” he said.

In addition, the spokesperson said Guterres urged the M23 and other armed groups to immediately cease hostilities and to disarm unconditionally.

“He calls for the respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Dujarric.

He said Guterres further called on all parties to facilitate humanitarian access across eastern DRC, “and to ensure protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law.

“He also calls on all actors to refrain from hate speech and incitement to violence.”

The UN chief reiterated that the UN, through its Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, would continue to support the Congolese government and the people overall, “in their efforts to bring about peace and stability in the east of the country.”


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