UN Experts: Rwanda Backing M23 Rebel With Weapons

Rwandan troops attacked soldiers inside DR Congo and aided the M23 rebel group with weapons and support, a United Nations group of experts said, citing “solid evidence” despite reiterated denials by Kigali.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the militia, which stems from the long fallout from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and has captured swathes of territory in recent months. Kigali repeatedly denied supporting M23 and the armed group maintains it does not receive Rwandan support.

A 131-page report by United Nations Security Council experts found Rwanda launched military interventions inside Congolese territory since at least November 2021, providing “troop reinforcements” for specific M23 operations, “in particular when these aimed at seizing strategic towns and areas”.

Yolande Makolo, Rwanda’s government spokesperson, said in a statement the government would not comment on an “unpublished and unvalidated report.” She said an earlier report by the experts’ group in June “contained none of these false allegations”.

DRC government spokesman Patrick Muyaya welcomed the work of the UN group on Thursday. “The truth always triumphs in the end. We hope that conclusions will be drawn quickly to put an end to Rwanda’s interference and bring back lasting peace,” Muyaya wrote on Twitter.

The UN experts found evidence that M23 fighters and Rwandan troops “jointly attacked” a large DRC army base in Rumangabo, in eastern North Kivu province, on May 25, a day after Rwandan forces had crossed into the DRC.

An estimated 1,000 Rwandan troops also cut the main highway leading to the provincial capital Goma, an important commercial hub on the Rwandan border, and attacked Congolese positions, it said.

“On repeated occasions, aerial imagery showed large columns of up to 500 armed men in the vicinity of the DRC, Rwandan and Ugandan borders, moving in a very organized manner,” the expert group said.

The columns of soldiers wore “standardized military attire” that bore close resemblance to Rwandan army uniforms, the report added.

Some 300 Rwandan troops also conducted operations against rebel groups in eastern DRC, such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu rebel group that Kigali views as a threat.