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UN may deploy drones in Congo

The UN is believed to be considering deploying surveillance drones in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda, which is accused of backing rebellion in the region, opposes the idea.

The UN peacekeeping chief, Herve Ladsous, asked the Security Council on Tuesday to back the deployment of drones in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the very first time, in order to better protect civilians, according to a UN diplomat.

Ladsous put forward plans to deploy three drones in the war-torn country's east in a closed meeting, according to the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

"The U.N. in Congo needs additional and modern assets, including drones, to be better informed and more reactive," Brieuc Pont, spokesman for France's UN Mission, said via his Twitter, social media account.

But Rwanda opposed the move, warning that Africa could become a testing ground for foreign intelligence methods.

"It is not wise to use a device on which we don't have enough information," Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda's deputy U.N. ambassador, said to Reuters news agency. "Africa shall not become a laboratory for intelligence devices from overseas."

UN experts have accused Rwanda of supporting the March 23 Movement (M23), a military group based in eastern DRC; a charge which Kigali denies.

M23 rebels, who have been clashing with DRC troops for nearly a year, gained control over the city of Goma in eastern DRC in November. Although they retreated 11 days later, the episode made the UN's current peacekeeping force there look ineffective.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to recommend new ways to improve the UN presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a report due to be submitted to the Security Council within weeks.

sej/jm (AP, Reuters)

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