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Congo wants UN force to `neutralise` rebels

Congo said it wants the UN peacekeeping force to protect the tense and porous border with neighbouring Rwanda.

New York: Congo said it wants the UN peacekeeping force in the African country to "neutralise" a new rebel movement and a force that helped perpetrate Rwanda`s 1994 genocide and protect the tense and porous border with neighbouring Rwanda.

Congo`s Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda N`tunga Mulongo also called on the Security Council to impose sanctions on those named in a UN report in July that accused high-ranking Rwandan officials of helping to create, arm and support the new M23 rebels within Congo, as well as the rebel movement`s leaders.

Mulongo held a news conference after discussions this week with the Security Council and the panel that wrote the July report.

Rwanda`s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who has vehemently denied the accusations, was also at UN headquarters this week meeting with the panel and council members to protest the report`s findings.

Congo`s mineral-rich east is facing the worst upsurge in fighting in years, which has forced some 280,000 people from their homes.

The fighting escalated in April when Army deserters calling themselves the M23 Movement launched a rebellion to demand better pay, better armaments and amnesty from war crimes.

Rwanda blames Congo for the upsurge in violence, but Mulongo said the evidence in the panel`s report clearly points to Rwanda`s involvement.

The conflict in the east is a spillover from the 1994 genocide. Hundreds who participated in the mass slaughter escaped into Congo and still fight there. The M23 rebels are an incarnation of a group of Congolese Tutsi set up to fight Rwandan Hutu rebels in Congo.

Mulongo said that all of Congo`s borders are quiet except for the border with Rwanda.

Instead of trying to introduce a second foreign force to help bring peace to the volatile east, he said his government wants the Security Council to beef up the mandate of the 22,000-strong UN peacekeeping force to address the escalating violence.

"I don`t think it requires a much larger force," Mulongo said. "For sure, it requires a more robust mandate."


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