In Goma thousands of Congolese army, police, defect to rebel side
On Tuesday, the M23 rebels seized control of Goma, a key city in eastern Congo. Congolese soldiers and police have joined the rebels in droves. The presidents of Congo and Rwanda, which is said to back the M23, held emergency talks about the situation.
(Page 2 of 2)
"We take it as an emergency meeting," said the diplomat of the talks. "President Kabila is the one who sought the meeting with President Kagame. Museveni had been pressing them to talk. We believe that this is the last chance to solve this thing. The time has come for Congo either to talk or fight (the rebels). You can't do both."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The United Nations accuses the M23 of grave crimes including recruiting child soldiers, summary executions and rape, according to an experts report to be released on Friday.
The United Nations peacekeepers, known by their acronym MONUSCO, did not help the Congo government forces during Tuesday's battle because they do not have a mandate to engage the rebels, said Congolese military spokesman Olivier Hamuli, who expressed frustration over the lack of action by the peacekeepers.
A U.N. spokesman in New York said that the nearly 1,500 U.N. peacekeepers in Goma held their fire to avoid triggering a battle. The peacekeepers "cannot substitute for the efforts of national forces" in Congo, said spokesman Eduardo del Buey.
On Wednesday the Security Council will review the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo. A resolution adopted Tuesday by the Security Council asks the U.N. secretary-general to recommend possible redeployment, and possible "additional force multipliers."
The resolution approved unanimously by the council imposes targeted sanctions, including a travel ban and assets freeze on the M23 rebel group leadership. But it did not name two countries accused by Congo of supporting the rebels: Rwanda and Uganda.
The council demanded that the M23 rebels withdraw from Goma, disarm and disband, and insisted on the restoration of the crumbing Congolese government authority in the country's turbulent east.
The resolution also calls for an immediate end to external support to the rebels and asks the U.N. secretary-general to report on the allegations of foreign support while expressing its readiness to take appropriate measures.
The rebels are believed to be backed by Rwanda, and to a smaller extent by Uganda, which are accused of equipping them with sophisticated arms, including night vision goggles and 120 mm mortars. Evidence is mounting of the involvement by the neighboring country and on Friday, the United Nations Group of Experts is expected to release its final report, detailing the role the neighboring nations played in the recruitment, financing and arming of the rebel movement, which was launched in April.
RELATED: New trouble in Congo