UNITED NATIONS, Tuesday
The UN Security Council has slapped an arms embargo on M23 rebels and their alleged Rwandan allies, the FDLR, amid a flare-up of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern region.
The council committee tasked with monitoring sanctions on the Congo also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on two key M23 figures: the group’s civilian leader Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero and Lieutenant Colonel Eric Badege, a commander suspected of being responsible for the deaths of women and children.
The decision came just hours before Rwanda was set to join the council as a non-permanent member today.
“We believe these designations will directly help advance the goal of sustainable peace in eastern DRC,” US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement.
“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.”
UN experts accuse Congo’s neighbours Rwanda and Uganda of backing the M23, an accusation both countries deny.
The Security Council has already issued targeted sanctions, the latest round at the end of November, against three M23 military leaders — Sultani Makenga, Baudoin Ngaruye and Innocent Kaina — but had yet to impose sanctions on the entire group.
Britain’s Africa minister Mark Simmonds welcomed the agreement, adding: “We remain committed to finding long-term solutions which will end the cycle of violence in the DRC.”
“The dialogue needed to resolve the crisis must ensure that all violence stops, that external support to M23 ends and that there is no impunity for M23 commanders and others who have committed serious human rights abuses, including the FDLR,” he added.
At the same time, Roger Lumbala, a member of the current National Assembly of the DRC, has declared that he supports M23.
Lumbala, 54, is the leader of a small political party called the Congolese Rally for Democrats and Nationalists, which secured four seats in the National Assembly out of 500.
Speaking during an interview with Top Congo FM, a Kinshasa- based private radio station, Lumbala said that he decided to support the group due to its push for revelation of the truth in the last presidential election.
“I am not really a member of M23 but I support the fact that the movement wants the truth about the last presidential election revealed.
(AFP, Juakali Kambale, Nation Correspondent)