Security Council demands Rwanda pull out military forces in DR of Congo

Amb. Abdallah Baali

7 December 2004 – The United Nations Security Council today demanded Rwanda withdraw any military forces it may have in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and warned of potential instability brought about by the presence of Rwandan rebels in the DRC.

The Council demand comes amidst multiple reports of military operations - including by the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) - by the Rwandan army in the eastern part of the DRC, making good on threats made last week by the Rwandan Government that it will attack rebels based in its neighbour to the west.

"The Security Council recognizes that continued tension in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo undermines peace and security in the region, and in particular that the presence of ex-FAR and Interahamwe elements in the eastern [DRC] is a source of instability, a threat to civilian populations and an impediment to good neighbourly relations" between the two countries, Ambassador Abdallah Baali of Algeria, the Council President for December, said in a statement read out in an open meeting.

"It considers the armed presence and activities of ex-FAR and Interahamwe elements in the eastern part of the DRC to be unacceptable and demands that they disarm and disband without delay, with a view to their repatriation or resettlement."

Rwanda's Hutu extremist militias, blamed for the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, fled across the border to mineral-rich DRC, which was then embroiled in its own civil war.

After ceasefire accords ended the DRC's civil strife, Rwanda withdrew its troops, but in July a UN expert group found that it was supporting dissident Congolese Tutsi, or Banyamulenge, military leaders in eastern DRC and directly and indirectly had violated the weapons embargo against the militias.

On 2 December UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Rwanda to refrain from fighting in Congolese territory after Rwanda had expressed intentions to attack DRC-based Rwandan rebels.

Today's statement by the Council President reiterated the Rwandan Government's agreement, along with the DRC, Burundi and Uganda, to respect one another's sovereignty and to end the problems created by the rebels.

It called on all States in the region "to refrain from any action or statement that contravenes international law, undermines the already fragile stability in the region, or the transitional process supported by the international community."

The Council also noted that these reported events and threats are contrary to peace agreements, declarations and protocols signed by regional states since the start of hostilities in the DRC in 1998.

"It underlines that these events and threats, arising after the international Conference on the Great Lakes of Africa, are contrary to the commitments taken by the regional Heads of State in the declaration adopted in Dar es Salaam on 20 November to settle their disputes in a peaceful manner and are all the more unacceptable."

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