DR Congo

DRC: RCD-Goma rebels call for UN condemnation of Kinshasa and Kampala

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KINSHASA, 11 March (IRIN) - The Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) rebel movement petitioned the UN Security Council on Saturday to impose sanctions on the Kinshasa government for its alleged involvement in last week's fighting in the city of Bunia, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
"We expect a condemnation from the Security Council of the Kinshasa government for the role it has played in hostilities in Ituri [District, of which Bunia is the principal city]," Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga, the RCD-Goma spokesman, told IRIN on Saturday.

He warned of the risk of still more serious fighting in the region, despite the reported calm prevailing there for the time being - and of his movement's readiness to "assume its responsibilities" in stopping the threat of aggression on territory under its control.

Uganda troops ousted the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) rebel fighters from Bunia on Thursday after several hours of fierce fighting.

RCD-Goma also asked the Council to condemn the Ugandan government, and demanded the "immediate and unconditional withdrawal" of Ugandan troops from the DRC. RCD-Goma has also accused the Kinshasa and Kampala governments of providing military support to a newly created rebel group, the Front pour l'integration et la pacification de l'Ituri, comprising fighters from the Lendu and Ngiti communities.

Reacting to the accusations, DRC President Joseph Kabila told Radio Okapi on Monday that his government had no forces in Bunia, fighting alongside the Ugandans.

"Have you ever seen an angel befriend the Devil?" he said. "The Congolese government could never ally itself to Uganda and Rwanda, who are aggressors in our country."

On 6 January, RCD-Goma formed an alliance with the UPC, committing the two parties to "cooperate and support each other mutually in the domains of politics, military, and economy", after the UPC had fallen out with Uganda, its original supporter, in late 2002.

An improvement in relations appeared possible when, on 1 March, negotiations between the UPC leader, Thomas Lubanga, and Brig Kale Kaihura, the chief political commissar of the Ugandan People's Defence Forces, resulted in the signing of an accord under which the Ugandan army would withdraw from its positions in Bunia, and remain camped at the city's airport.

Now, in anticipation of further hostilities, the Ugandan army has been reinforcing its presence in Bunia.

[ENDS]

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