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UN to reinforce DR Congo borders after rebel defeat

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

UN troops will help reinforce Democratic Republic of Congo's borders to stop rebels and arms getting into other countries after the defeat of M23 mutineers, a top UN envoy said Wednesday.

France, the United States and other leading UN Security Council members widely welcomed the rout of M23 at talks on the conflict-stricken country.

But Rwanda, a temporary Security Council member closely implicated in the conflict across its border, called for a new focus on rebels which oppose its government.

Martin Kobler, UN representative to DR Congo said the UN peacekeeping mission, officially known as MONUSCO, would strengthen border positions to stop ethnic Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) crossing into Rwanda.

"We need to reinforce MONUSCO positions near the border to avoid flows of arms across the border, to avoid the FDLR crossing to Rwanda," Kobler was quoted as telling the closed meeting.

UN troops, a new special intervention force, backed an offensive by government forces that this week defeated M23 rebels who launched an uprising in eastern DR Congo in early 2012.

Rwanda has warned that it remains ready to intervene in DR Congo, and this message was reinforced by its UN envoy Eugene Richard Gasana. Rwanda is particularly enraged by FDLR operations across the border.

"Rwanda remains fully prepared to use all necessary means to protect its people and territory," Gasana told the meeting.

Afterwards, Gasana told reporters the Security Council should order the intervention brigade in DR Congo to take on the FDLR and other armed groups.

"This is a genocidal force which is there," Gasana said. The FDLR is made up of remnants of Hutu extremists blamed for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which an estimated 800,000 people died.

But the DR Congo government victory was widely praised at the closed meeting.

UN peace envoy Mary Robinson told ambassadors the M23 defeat was a "very special moment" in efforts to halt decades of conflict in eastern DR Congo.

"The wolf at the door, the M23, was threatening civilians, was threatening MONUSCO. We hope that the threat of this wolf at the door is now gone for good," US ambassador Samantha Power commented, according to envoys.

France's UN envoy Gerard Araud told reporters the defeat of M23 was "a success for the Congolese army and for the United Nations."

But he added that the M23 fighters had to be disarmed, the government must re-establish its authority in rebel areas, there had to be more work on a political accord among countries around DR Congo and there must be a new fight against other armed groups.

Araud highlighted the FDLR, Mai-Mai militias and the ADF-Nalu (Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda), Islamist militants who UN experts have linked to Al-Qaeda backed Shebab in Somalia.

The French envoy said the FDLR was a "legitimate" concern for the Rwandan government, which has been accused in the past of aiding M23.

DR Congo's UN ambassador Ignaca Gata said the government now wanted to "eradicate all of the negative forces" in the eastern region.

Gata added that the government wants to complete an accord with remnants of the M23 that is being negotiated in Kampala.

He said it could allow for some M23 fighters to be integrated into the national army but this would be decided on "a case-by-case" basis.

tw/jm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131106/un-reinforce-dr-congo-borders-after-rebel-defeat-0