Thursday, December 05, 2013

United Nations Troops Target Armed Groups in DRC

UN troops target armed groups in DRC

December 4, 2013

GOMA/KAMPALA. – The United Nations yesterday announced its peacekeeping troops will go after other armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after helping to defeat the M23 rebel force.Tackling such groups is now “a prospect” for the UN’s 20 000-strong MONUSCO force and “that’s just what we are going to do,” the head of UN peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, said in the northeastern city of Goma, capital of strife-torn North Kivu province.

Ladsous was speaking after the UN peacekeeping mission launched an Italian-made surveillance drone from the airport in Goma – the first time the UN has used such a pilot-less aircraft in any country. The MONUSCO mission in the DRC currently has two such unarmed drones. Both are fitted exclusively for reconnaissance missions, to back up its ground forces.

The mission is to be equipped with three more by March next year.

The deployment of drones comes at a “symbolic” moment, Ladsous said, after the “fundamental change” on the ground in North Kivu when Congolese troops backed by a UN special intervention brigade forced the powerful M23 rebels to surrender on November 5.

The drones will be “an incomparable tool”, Ladsous said. They will fly over North and South Kivu provinces and “are going to give us precise usable information in real time in tactical terms”, he added.

The drones will survey mineral-rich territory fought over by dozens of armed movements, which the 3 000-strong special brigade, with soldiers from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania, has been ordered to neutralise.

The aircraft will also be used to survey the porous borders between North Kivu and Rwanda and Uganda, in a bid to prevent these countries providing support to groups inside DR Congo.

Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his DRC counterpart Joseph Kabila have agreed that the peace process must resume to allow thousands of refugees to return to the DRC.

The conclusion of the Ugandan-mediated talks would also facilitate the peaceful return of former combatants from the M23 rebel group and completion of the demobilisation process, the two leaders said in a communique after meeting here Monday.

“The two presidents agreed that the Kampala Dialogue between the government of the DRC and the M23 should be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible,” it said.

“This would further create appropriate conditions for the return of Congolese refugees living in neighbouring countries and the internally displaced persons,” the communiqué said.

Kabila reaffirmed his determination to rid the DRC of all other negative forces, including the FDLR, a Rwandan rebel group, and the Allied Democratic Force, a Ugandan rebel group.

The DRC government declined to sign a peace agreement it had negotiated with the M23 last month, saying it needed a review of the final text.

The Congolese government and the M23 rebels have been negotiating for almost a year to end fighting in the eastern part of the country.

– AFP/Xinhua.

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