UN Security Council slaps sanctions on Congo rebel groups


Congolese M23 Rebels' Head of the Military Wing Delegation Colonel Antoine Manzi sits during peace talks in Kampala on December 11, 2012.


Isaac Kasamani

The United Nations Security Council has imposed tough sanctions on Congo's M23 rebel group along with a Rwanda-backed rebel group FDLR.

The sanctions will mean that both groups leaders' assets will be frozen and that their leaders will be barred from traveling.

M23 was accused by the UN of killing civilians en masse, forcing young men and boys to join their ranks, and the raping of women and young girls, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The full UN document can be read here.

The March 23 Movement (M23) and their allies, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), have been accused of various atrocities and human rights violations.

DR Congo has accused Rwanda of backing the forces who were once part of the Congolese military.

The unrest dates back to the Rwandan genocide and the civil war in Congo but the M23 rebellion began last April.

North Kivu on the DRC's eastern border with Rwanda has seen fighting between the Congolese military and the rebels over the summer and fall.

BBC reported that the fighting has displaced nearly half a million people since it began.

The United Nations has found evidence that Rwanda has had a hand in arming and supporting the rebels to gain a foothold in Congo's mineral-rich region, said AFP.

The sanctions come just a day before Rwanda begins a two-year term at the UN Security Council.

Sanctions need the agreement of all 15 permanent and non-permanent members of the Council - an unlikely event if Rwanda had taken part.

Rwanda denies that it has supported the rebels.

The DRC welcomed the sanctions and said that it was timely.

"It's a condemnation we expected... and it arrives at the right time because these groups threaten to destabilize Africa for decades, especially in the Great Lakes region," Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP.

"I think it's a very good decision."