DR Congo: UN force accused of aiding government coalition against M23 rebels

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The M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo on Wednesday, January 24, accused the United Nations mission in the country (MONUSCO) of providing a government-led coalition with information used to plan drone strikes against their positions as well as on unarmed civilians in North Kivu Province.

Rebel spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka said MONUSCO’s surveillance drones continue to collect and transmit information on positions and activities of the rebel group. The rebels previously said the government coalition, which includes militias like the UN-sanctioned Rwandan genocidal outfit, FDLR, as well as troops from Burundi and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), target civilians with drone strikes.

Kanyuka accused UN peacekeepers of having “biased and bellicose behaviour …and killings of the civilian population.”

He said UN peacekeepers “forced us to take appropriate measures of self-defence and protection of the targeted civilian population.”

The UN says its “peacekeepers are continuing to protect the main supply routes leading towards Goma and Sake in North Kivu,” according to UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric. In a press briefing on Tuesday, Dujarric said the UN troops were “assisting the Congolese army to prevent the M23 armed group from advancing towards both cities.”

The UN mission, in the country for nearly 25 years, is set to withdraw all its troops from DR Congo by the end of 2024.

Kanyuka said the government coalition was responsible for the death of a 15-year-old and three people who were wounded on Monday, January 22, by its artillery and drones in Mweso, in Masisi territory.

He said the M23 shot down one of the drones used by the government army.

“We call on the international community to break its silence in the face of the massacres of civilians perpetrated by the forces of [Congolese President Felix] Tshisekedi Tshilombo,” Kanyuka said.

Tshisekedi, who was re-elected in a disputed vote in December, refused to hold peace talks with the M23 rebels, despite regional leaders’ calls for a political resolution of the conflict in eastern DR Congo.

The rebels accused the Congolese army of violating a ceasefire brokered by the United States government in December.

Source: The New Times