U.S. says renewed Congo fighting risks engulfing region

PARIS Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:43am EDT

Congolese soldiers move to frontline positions as they advance against the M23 rebels in Kibumba, north of Goma October 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

Congolese soldiers move to frontline positions as they advance against the M23 rebels in Kibumba, north of Goma October 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kenny Katombe

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PARIS (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday renewed fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between the army and M23 rebels risked dragging neighboring countries into the conflict and it urged all sides to return to the negotiating table.

Following two months of relative calm in the region, fighting flared last Friday after peace talks in neighboring Uganda broke down when M23 rebels demanded an amnesty for their leaders. President Joseph Kabila has ruled out a blanket pardon.

Three days of army victories have raised the prospect that it could defeat Congo's most important rebel group, ending a 20-month uprising which has displaced tens of thousands of people, but Washington's special envoy for the region urged restraint.

"There are enormous risks in simply moving forward believing that a military solution is a full answer," Russell F. Feingold told reporters in Paris after returning from a trip to Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.

"It risks bringing in other forces in this matter that could lead to a cross-national war."

Feingold said he backed Kinshasa's view that those who had committed "serious crimes" could not go unpunished and he also said the army's successes were positive in showing it had a credible presence on the ground.

But he said peace talks must resume. "My belief is that this is not a situation for a military solution," he said.

M23 has been weakened by factional infighting and a stream of defections, fuelling a belief that Congo's army - notoriously disorganized, undisciplined and under-supplied - could defeat it. But diplomats say M23 remains a credible fighting force.

On Sunday M23 threatened to withdraw its delegation from the Kampala talks unless there was a quick end to hostilities.

Congo's army, supported by a new U.N. intervention brigade, scored its first victories against the rebel movement in late August, forcing the rebels away from the eastern city of Goma.

Feingold said neither the intervention brigade nor the U.N. mission in Congo (MONUSCO) were prepared to join the Congolese army in a regional war.

"To rely on that scenario would be a mistake," he said.

The U.N. brigade has a tough new mandate to eliminate armed groups, though it has not been directly involved in the past three days of fighting.

M23 began in early 2012 as a mutiny by soldiers demanding the government implement the terms of a 2009 peace deal signed with a previous Rwanda-backed rebel group, many of whose members had been integrated into the army.

U.N. investigators have accused Rwanda of also backing M23, something Kigali strongly denies.

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Comments (2)
PeaceinDRC wrote:
First, congratulations to the FARDC, they have proven against many odds that when well led they can win war adn esure the territorial integrity of teh DRC.As one DRC commander put it an army is only as bad as its leaders, the Army that lost to teh Rwandan backed M23 last year was nothing else but an army infiltrated by Rwandans who led people to believe they were congolese adn acting on congolese interests.

Anyway congratulations to teh FARDC and the congolese government fo rretaking these areas that were under teh M23 control adn for restoring the Congo territorial integrity. NOw to keep the peace in the regio, here are a coupl of advices to teh COngolese government.

-First pay your soldiers regulary
-Feed your soldiers
-Equip your soldiers and trained them professional, the US Army adn other nations are standing ready to assist on this, seize that opportunity
-Build military bases close to the Rwandan, Ugnandan adn South Sudan border
-Continue lobbying for congo cause at internation forums
-Continue making advances in good governance in Congo

Congratulations to the FARDC and the congolese government and long live The Democratic Republic of Congo and may God blessing be upon its people

Oct 28, 2013 12:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AnnGarrison wrote:
It’s difficult to imagine that Rwanda will send its army across the border without U.S. agreement.

Oct 29, 2013 9:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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