President Joseph Kabila on cover that reads "La Revue". The Democratic Republic of Congo held national elections in early December 2011. The central African state is a large repository of strategic minerals., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Joseph Kabila: 'open secret Rwanda is backing rebel fighters in Congo'
Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has addressed the Rwanda row for the first time, saying it is an "open secret" its neighbour is backing rebel fighters.
By Our Foreign Staff
5:15PM BST 29 Jul 2012
Daily Telegraph, UK
In rare public comments late on Saturday, Mr Kabila said he had also questioned Uganda over its alleged support for rebels known as the M23 movement operating in the region.
"As for the involvement of Rwanda ... It's an open secret. You know, the whole world knows. There is a report that effectively establishes the presence and active backing from this country to the M23 and to other armed groups," Mr Kabila said.
He advocated the deployment of a "neutral force" as a buffer between warring sides as proposed at an African Union summit earlier this month.
"Can diplomacy be the answer? In any case there are three roads to a solution: military, political and diplomatic, or all three at the same time," he said.
A United Nations report last month said that Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, shared responsibility for an uprising in neighbouring Congo.
Bosco Ntaganda, an indicted war criminal commonly known as the "Terminator", led a Congolese army mutiny in April. His M23 rebels used weapons and volunteers supplied by Rwanda, according to the UN.
The bloodshed in North and South Kivu provinces led to at least 50,000 refugees entering Uganda and another 420,000 fleeing elsewhere. Britain, one of Rwanda's closest allies, has delayed sending £16 million in aid while over the weekend, Germany became the latest country to suspend aid until 2015 in what it said was an "unmistakable signal to the Rwandan government."
Rwanda has repeatedly rejected the allegations, accusing the report's authors of failing to verify their information or consult Rwandan authorities.
The M23 are Tutsi ex-rebels from the Rwanda-backed National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).
They were integrated into the regular army of the DR Congo in 2009 as part of a peace deal that followed their failed 2008 offensive on the Nord-Kivu capital Goma.
But the ex-rebels mutinied in April, demanding better pay and the full implementation of the March 23, 2009 peace deal, and have been engaged in running battles with loyalist soldiers in Nord-Kivu.