The UN mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) said Wednesday it has “verified information” that no M23 rebels have crossed from Uganda onto Congolese territory – essentially contradicting what Kinshasa announced early this week.
MONUSCO officials told journalists in Kinshasa that following Kinshasa revelation, a joint military operation of MONUSCO and DRC troops was deployed in border regions with Uganda. A team from the regional joint evaluation mechanism is also on the ground to “obtain more clear information”.
“At this point we cannot confirm from verified information on the ground if there is any M23 rebel on DRC territory,” said Félix Prosper Basse, the MONUSCO spokesman.
North Kivu governor Julien Paluku called an impromptu press conference at his residence on Monday morning to announce that “hundreds” of M23 rebels had been located along the Uganda-DRC border region over the weekend. DRC information Minister Lambert Mende went further – claiming two battalions had been installed in Ishasha village.
On Tuesday, Okello Oryem – Uganda’s state minister for international affairs angrily dismissed the allegations that the rebels had left their camp in western Uganda.
“We never wanted them here, we never invited them here, they are not even desirable in Uganda,” he told Reuters news agency. “The responsibility for M23 lies squarely with the government of the DRC and the U.N., squarely with them, not the government of Uganda.”
“M23 should not be used to deflect from their (Congo’s) domestic issues,” he said.
MONUSCO for its part says the latest developments highlight urgent need for “all the signatories” of the Nairobi accords to take responsibility of their sides of the bargain. The deal signed between Kinshasa and the M23 rebels sets out a demobilization and reintegration plan for the rebels.
No action has been undertaken on the side of Kinshasa – as the rebels languish in camps in Uganda and Rwanda camps.