The presidents of Rwanda and Uganda told U.N. Security Council envoys on Monday that their countries were not responsible for bringing peace to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile east, which has long been mired in conflict and is bristling with armed groups.
Envoys from the 15-member council met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali and then President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala after spending two days in Congo visiting the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping operation.
Millions of people have been killed by violence, disease and hunger since the 1990s as rebel groups have fought for control of eastern Congo’s rich deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and uranium according to the Ugandan News Paper, The New Vision.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said both Kagame and Museveni described an 18-month rebellion by the M23 guerrilla group as just a symptom and not a cause of Congo’s problems, which were much more deep-seated in issues such as a lack of governance.
“(They said) it was really up to (Congolese President Joseph) Kabila to resolve those issues. The international community could still help, but it wasn’t the responsibility of Rwanda and it wasn’t the responsibility of Uganda,” Lyall Grant told reporters.
“They felt that Kabila had made a lot of mistakes and that he didn’t have control of his own troops and that was the fundamental issue – not anything else about cross-border interference,” he said.
U.N. experts have accused Rwanda of supporting M23, which is led by ethnic Tutsi, a charge that Kigali has rejected.
“It’s going to be the people and the countries in the region who determine whether or not there is peace,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told reporters after the meeting with Kagame.
“The armed groups need to be eliminated and every country in the region needs to use whatever leverage it has to get rid of those groups,” said Power. “That’s the only hope the people in the region have.”
The Express News