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U.N. Security Council plans sanctions on Congo rebels, others

(Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council intends to impose sanctions on the leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebels and others violating an arms embargo on the country, according to a draft statement to be formally adopted on Friday.

Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe is commanding the insurgency in eastern Congo that is being armed by Rwanda and Uganda, both of which also sent troops to aid deadly attacks, according to a U.N. report seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

“The Security Council expresses its intention to apply targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo,” the 15-member council says in the draft statement obtained by Reuters.

The council strongly condemned any external support to the M23 rebels, expressed “deep concern at reports indicating that such support continues to be provided to the M23 by neighboring countries” and demanded that it stop immediately.

The Security Council’s Group of Experts said in a confidential report that Rwanda and Uganda – despite their strong denials – continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops.

The Security Council statement on Friday stressed “the urgency of constructive engagement and dialogue between the DRC and its neighbors, especially Rwanda, and the need to address the underlying causes of the conflict in eastern DRC.”

The Congolese government on Wednesday demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the U.N. experts’ report.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo had on Thursday dismissed the idea that action should be taken on the basis of a U.N. experts report that she said was flawed and untrue. She said the priority was to work out how to pacify the region.

“It’s wrong. This report is very problematic so anybody who would want to take action based on that report would be really unfortunate,” Mushikiwabo told Reuters in an interview.

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