On November 28, 2012, the United Nations Security Council’s Sanctions Committee will adopt a resolution on the support of Congolese rebels known as M23 by foreign governments and individuals.
During the November 28, 2012 meeting, the chair of the UN Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev from Azerbaijan, is expected to brief the Council on the annual report by UN Groups of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Cpngo (DRC). The report was submitted by the UN Group of Experts on October 12, 2012. The report, leaked to the media (see our article:
UN Experts on Congo Stick to Their Guns and Accuse Rwandan Military and Government of Continued Support to M23 Rebels of October 12, 2012)
gives detailed accounts, testimonies, and solid proofs on the extensive support by the Rwandan and Ugandan Government and Military to the Congolese rebels. Rwandan Government and Military are particularly singled out, with the report showing that M23 rebels are under the de facto command of Rwandan Defense Minister General James Kabarebe.
Rwandan Military Support: An Open Secret
Although it had been an open secret (see our previous articles on the subject), the allegations of Rwandan government and military support to M23 rebels were first made public by the UN Group of Experts on June 26, 2012 during the briefing by Ambassador Mehdiyev, the Chair of DRC Sanctions Committee known as UN Resolution 1533 Committee, on the 2012 interim report.
Several Western countries, including the United States of America, Great Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium have subsequently cut or reduced aid to Rwandan government following the accusations.
M23 Congolese rebels are a major source of instability and humanitarian chaos in Eastern DRC and are accused of mass murders, rapes, looting, and war crimes.
On August 27, 2012, Baroness Valerie Amos, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the UN Security Council on the extent of the ravages caused by M23 rebels with Rwandan Military support and emphasized the need to address the root causes of the tragedy.
Rwandan Military Support: Solid and Persistent Evidence
On August 28-29, 2012 the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo and DRC government officials led by Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanda, briefed the UN Security Council. Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo tried, without much success, to undermine the report by the UN Group of Experts by shifting the blame to Mr. Steve Hege, the coordinator of the Group, accusing him of a bias against Rwanda, allegedly expressed in previous expert and academic writings (see our article: Rwandan Government Delegation Attacks UN Expert Steve Hege at the UN Security Council of August 28, 2012). Steve Hege convincingly refuted Ms. Mushikiwabo’s allegations by meticulously explaining the UN Experts’ methodology. Most UN Security members confided to AfroAmerica Network sources that they were swayed by Mr. Hege’s explanations and that the UN Experts’s reports appeared to be supported by strong evidence.
Rwandan Military and M23 leaders to be targeted by UN Sanctions
Following various briefings and other ensuing meetings, the UN Security Council adopted on October 9, 2012 a resolution condemning all support for armed groups and expressed deep concern at reports indicating that such support continues to be provided to the M23 by neighbouring countries. Based on a proposition submitted by France, the UN Security Council also expressed its intention to apply targeted sanctions against the leadership of M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime.
In November 28th meeting, the UN Security Council is expected to decide on the following pending matters:
- follow up on the recommendations and conclusions of the UN Group of Experts on DRC’s annual report and adopt sanctions against the leaders of M23 and those assisting them, including Rwandan top military Defense Minister General James Kabarebe, Rwandan Military Chief of Staff General Charles Kayonga, and Rwandan President Security and Intelligence Adviser General Jack Nziza;
- renew the mandate of the sanctions regime and of the UN Group of Experts on DRC;
- call on the governments and armed groups concerned to negotiate a political solution to the crisis in North Kivu;
- Consider the appointment of a UN Special Envoy in the Great Lakes Region.
According to sources at the United Nations, it is more likely that M23 rebels leaders, including General Makenga, General Jean Bosco Ntaganda, Colonel Minani Tenesi, Colonel Seraphin Milindi, Colonel Bauduin Ngaruye, Colonel Claude Mico, Colonel Innocent Gahizi, Colonel Seraphin Zimulinda, Colonel Eraste Gacari, Major Felix Mugabo, Major Emmanuel Kabundi, Colonel Yusuf Mboneza, Colonel Claude Birinda, Colonel Justin Karangwa, Colonel Jimmy Nzamuye, Colonel Biyoyo, and many more may be targeted by the sanctions. However, the sources remain sceptical regarding imposing sanctions against Rwandan military leaders.
Will the UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Finally Be Appointed?
The leaders of the Rwandan opposition, especially the National Democratic Congress (NDC), an umbrella of the Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD-Urunana) and Rally of the Rwandan People (RPR) have been asking for a UN Secretary General Special Envoy in the Great Lakes region for Refugees to be appointed. The proposition to appoint the special envoy may be within this framework, though with a narrower mandate.
In fact, the Rome and Kisangani process and the Kamina peace process, between the Government of DRC and the leaders of NDC, under the facilitation of Sant’Egidio Community of Rome, SIK of Norway, and Eglise du Christ au Congo, provided for the DRC Government to ask the UN Secretary General for the appointment of UN Special Envoy in the Great Lakes Region to facilitate negotiations among the Rwandan and DRC Governments and their armed oppositions. It was argued that the UN Envoy would help resolve the Rwandan refugee crisis, which is one of the major causes of the chaos in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The November 28, 2012 meeting will perhaps help understand whether the UN Security Council has an understanding of the issues in Eastern DRC similar to that of the DRC Government, Sant’Egidio, SIK-NOrway, Eglise du Christ au Congo and the NDC leaders.
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