News

US says more rebel groups involved in Congo conflict

Share Bookmark Print Rating
US envoy Stephen Rapp addressing a press conference in Rwanda. Photo/File

US envoy Stephen Rapp addressing a press conference in Rwanda. Photo/File  Nation Media Group

By RODRIGUE RWIRAHIRA Rwanda Today

Posted  Friday, August 17   2012 at  17:49

In Summary

  • Stephen Rapp, the head of the US office for Global Criminal Justice, said in Kinshasa that M23 was just one of the armed groups unleashing terror on civilians, forcing them to flee to neighbouring countries.
  • He said M23 leadership heavily contributed alongside other armed groups to violence and massacres in Northern and Southern Kivu.
  • Mr Rapp was on tour of the Great Lakes region to negotiate the possibility of establishing a joint court by Rwanda and Congo to try suspected perpetrators of violence in the region.
SHARE THIS STORY

The US has said the ongoing violence in eastern Congo is not perpetrated by one rebel group alone.

Stephen Rapp, the head of the US office for Global Criminal Justice, said in Kinshasa that M23 was just one of the armed groups unleashing terror on civilians, forcing them to flee to neighbouring countries.

Mr Rapp said the US is concerned with the violence and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Congo as violent rebels continue wreaking havoc.

“We firmly condemn such acts of violence; the increasing unrest in eastern DRC is the direct consequence of the mutiny in the Congolese armed forces and triggered by the armed group called M23,” Mr Rapp said in a statement.

However, he remained non-committal on a recent report by the UN, that squarely blamed M23 for the massacres in eastern Congo, saying other rebel groups also contributed to the violence.

“I made it clear that in my observation, to date, in terms of mass killings, rapes and atrocities, I do not see evidence of M23 having engaged in that level,” Mr Rapp said while comparing the group to a similar rebel group that fought the government of Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002.

However, he explained that some M23 leaders were among the perpetrators of violence that has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians who have fled to neighbouring countries.

He said M23 leadership heavily contributed alongside other armed groups to violence and massacres in Northern and Southern Kivu.

“The UN Security Council and the High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay recently named five senior officers who have in the past participated in atrocities against civilians and who should face justice,” said the envoy.

He named Bosco Ntaganda, Sultani Makenga, Baudouin Ngaruye, Innocent Zimurinda and Innocent Kaina as the first five senior leaders of M23 who have been responsible for violence and murders in eastern Congo.

Mr Rapp was on tour of the Great Lakes region to negotiate the possibility of establishing a joint court by Rwanda and Congo to try suspected perpetrators of violence in the region.

The US government suspended military aid to Rwanda over the UN report that linked Rwanda with the Congo violence. The report accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebel against the ruling government in eastern DRC.

Several Western countries have since joined the fray, imposing sanctions on Rwanda in bid to force it to sever links with militants in eastern Congo.

Mr Rapp backed the UN report, saying there is overwhelming evidence that Rwanda has been supporting the rebel groups.

1 | 2 Next Page»