Rwanda voted onto UN Security Council, despite fresh allegations of support for DRC rebels


A soldier from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) on the lookout for M23 rebels at an army outpost between the village of Kachiru and Mbuzi hill — an M23 rebel position — in North Kivu, eastern Congo on May 24, 2012. A UN report charges that Rwanda has supported the M23 rebels, but the Rwandan government denies the allegation.


Phil Moore

Rwanda has won a seat on the UN Security Council despite fresh allegations of support for M23 rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda was among five countries elected Thursday to two-year terms on the Council, beginning January 1, 2013. Despite the DRC raising a formal objection to its candidacy, Rwanda, which ran unopposed for the Africa seat, received 148 votes — well above the 129 votes it needed.

The vote came a day after a leaked UN report accused Rwanda of commanding the M23 rebellion in the eastern DRC. 

The confidential report by a UN panel of experts says Rwanda's defense minister has been relaying military orders to M23 rebel leaders since April, according to Reuters. The report also accuses Uganda of supporting the rebels.

"While Rwandan officials coordinated the creation of the rebel movement as well as its major military operations, Uganda's more subtle support to M23 allowed the rebel group's political branch to operate from within Kampala and boost its external relations," the report says, according to Reuters.

Rwanda's foreign minister called the allegations in the UN report “categorically false and dangerous rumors.” 

Previous UN reports have accused Rwanda of supporting the rebels and of committing serious human rights violations while pursuing Hutu rebels that fled into the DRC following the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

More from GlobalPost: Rwanda commands M23 rebels in neighboring Congo, UN says

Ida Sawyer, a Human Rights Watch researcher based in the DRC, told the Associated Press that Rwanda has been rewarded after "undermining the work of the UN by propping up the abusive M23 rebels."

Rwandan President Paul Kagame welcomed the UN Security Council result via his official Twitter account:

GlobalPost's Tristan McConnell, reporting from the DRC, explained that the M23 is made up of former Rwanda-backed militants that fought the Congolese army for years before reaching a peace deal in 2009.

"The former fighters were brought into the fold of the national army. But a contingent of the former militants, unhappy with how the deal was implemented, broke off and resumed the fight," McConnell wrote.

The M23 uprising is led by Bosco Ntaganda, a renegade Congolese general known as "The Terminator" who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Meanwhile, a hospital in Goma, capital of North Kivu in the eastern DRC, said Thursday that at least 5 000 women have been raped this year in that province, where the M23 rebellion has caused renewed instability.

"The number of rapes has risen dramatically," Justin Paluku, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Heal Africa hospital, told Agence France-Presse.

More from GlobalPost: Rwanda backs Congo rebels. Again.