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30.10.2008 Congo

U.N. Security Council condemns rebel offensive in DR Congo


The United Nations Security Council issued a presidential statement Wednesday condemning the recent offensive by Tutsi rebel group National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"The U.N. Security Council condemns the recent CNDP offensive in the eastern region of DRC and demands that it bring its operations to an end," Ambassador Zhang Yesui of China, which holds the council's rotating presidency for October, read from a statement drafted after consultations among council members.

"The Council welcomes the announcement by (CNDP leader) Laurent Nkunda of an immediate ceasefire, and looks to Laruent Nkunda to ensure its effective and durable implementation and the CNDP's re-engagement in the Goma (peace) process," Zhang said.

The Security Council expressed "grave concern about the dramatic humanitarian consequences of the recent fighting," Zhang said, urging all parties to "respect fully their obligations under international law to protect civilians, to ensure access to the population in need and to guarantee the safety and security of humanitarian personnel."

The Security Council urged all signatories to earlier peace deals signed in Goma and Nairobi to implement their commitments "effectively and in good faith."

It also called on the authorities of the DRC and neighbouring Rwanda to take concrete steps to defuse tensions and restore stability in the region.

"The Council strongly supports the efforts of the Secretary General to facilitate the dialogue between the leaders of the two countries and encourages him to send a special envoy tasked with this mission as soon as possible," the statement said.

"The Security Council urges the government of DRC to take effective steps to ensure that there is no cooperation between elements of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)," Zhang said.

"The Council also calls upon the governments of the region to cease all support to the armed groups in the eastern region of the DRC."

The FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu militia charged with the 1994 Tutsi genocide in the country, is said to be aiding the FARDC to hunt and kill so-called enemies. Meanwhile the DRC accuses Tutsi-led Rwanda of supporting the CNDP, a charge Kigali denies.

The Security Council also expressed concern over reports of heavy weapons fire across the border between the DRC and Rwanda.

It condemned attacks on the U.N. mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, in the past days "regardless of their perpetuators," urging the MONUC to "continue to implement fully its mandate in all aspects... to protect civilians at risk and to deter any attempt to threaten the political process by any armed group."

The Security Council promised to "study expeditiously" the request for reinforcement of the MONUC by the U.N. Secretariat, the statement said.