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UN eases DR Congo arms embargo

December 21, 2022

The Congolese government wants to speed up the procurement of weapons to help it fight rebel groups in the east. The UN also renewed its peacekeeping mission in the DRC for another year.

Conglose soldiers armed with automatic rifles on the back of a truck patrolling the eastern DRC
Congolese soldiers are fighting the M23 and other rebel groups in the eastern DRCImage: Alain Uaykani/Xinhua/picture alliance

The UN Security Council eased an arms embargo against the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), hoping it would help the country contain the worsening security situation in the east.

Under a new resolution, countries are no longer required to notify the Security Council of arms sales or military support to the Congolese government.

An embargo was first imposed after the end of a civil war in 2003.

France, a permanent member of the Security Council, drafted the resolution, saying it was aimed at the "defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the DRC. It was passed late on Tuesday with support from Russia and China.

The Congolese government had been complaining that the restrictions were hampering its fight against rebels including the resurgent M23 group.

"A battle won, an injustice repaired," DRC government spokesman Patrick Muyaya wrote on Twitter after the resolution was passed.

Congolese youth join the army to fight rebels

Growing pressure on Rwanda from France, Germany

France and Germany became the latest parties to openly accuse Rwanda of supporting M23, one of several militant groups operating in the eastern DRC.

During a visit to the DRC on Tuesday, French Minister of State for Development Chrysoula Zacharopoulou told reporters the M23 must lay down its arms and abandon the areas it occupies.

"Rwanda, because it must be named, must stop supporting the M23," she said. "We must put an end to the repetition of history in this region."

The German Foreign Ministry's director for sub-Saharan Africa, Christoph Retzlaff, tweeted that Rwanda should "immediately cease'' its support for the M23 and quickly contribute to a solution to the "disastrous'' crisis.

After lying mostly dormant for years, the group resumed fighting late last year, making significant advances, capturing several towns and villages, including Rutshuru and Kiwanja.

The Congolese government accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23 with troops and firepower. A UN group of expert found "solid evidence" earlier this year that Kigali has supported the M23 rebel group's advance in the east.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, speaking on the sidelines of a recent US-Africa summit, however, denied his country's involvement in the fighting saying it is "Congo's problem.''

United Nations peacekeepers on patrol in the eastern DRC
The UNs MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the DRC is the largest in the world Image: Justin Kabumba/AP/picture alliance

Security Council extends peacekeeper mandate

The Security Council also on Tuesday voted unanimously to extended the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo for one year.

Nathalie Broadhurst, deputy permanent representative of France to the United Nations, said the focus would be on the "robust mandate" to protect civilians.

The mission, known by its French acronym, MONUSCO, were also ordered to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate combatants, and provide strategic and technical advice on reforming Congo's security sector.

In July, there were deadly protests against the force, which has faced criticism for not doing enough to protect civilians from rebel attacks.

MONUSCO was due to hand most of its duties over to local forces by 2024.

The Security Council also ordered the peacekeepers and other UN staff to start preparing for the force's eventual exit from the DRC.

lo/es (AFP, AP, Reuters)