* General sold guns to groups accused of massacres -UN
* Report comes as Congo suffers setbacks against rebels
* President Kabila under pressure to reform army
By Jonny Hogg
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov 21 One
of Democratic Republic of Congo's most senior army commanders
has been selling weapons to rebel groups accused of carrying out
widespread massacres, according to a U.N. report published on
General Gabriel Amisi commands Congo's land forces, which
suffered a humiliating defeat after being driven out of the
eastern city of Goma by rebel fighters on Tuesday, despite
support from thousands of United Nations peacekeepers.
The report, written for the U.N. by a group of independent
experts, says that Amisi oversees a network providing arms and
ammunition to criminal groups and rebels who roam in the hills
and forests of Congo's resource-rich but troubled east.
The M23 rebel group that seized Goma, however, was not among
the armed bands named in the U.N. report as receiving weapons
through the network.
"Gen. Gabriel Amisi oversees a network distributing hunting
ammunition for poachers and armed groups, including Raïa
Mutomboki," the report says in reference to a local militia
accused of widespread atrocities.
The report also says that Amisi ordered that 300 AK 47
assault rifles be given to another armed group operating in
eastern Congo, known as Nyatura.
Earlier this month a separate U.N. investigation said Raia
Mutomboki and Nyatura, along with the Rwandan FDLR rebel group,
had been responsible for the deaths of more than 260 civilians
in a wave of tit-for-tat ethnic massacres in remote parts of
North Kivu province.
According to the report by the so-called Group of Experts,
ammunition is bought in neighbouring Congo Brazzaville, before
being smuggled through the Congolese capital Kinshasa to the
east by a close network of Amisi's associates, including members
of his family.
Former rebel Amisi is a colourful figure and president of a
top Congolese soccer team, as well as being one of the most
influential people in the government of President Joseph Kabila.
"Between the demands of Amisi's command responsibilities and
those of his racketeering and business dealings, the latter have
always won out," Group of Experts head Steve Hege told Reuters.
Neither Amisi nor a spokesman for Congo's army - known as
FARDC - were immediately available to respond to the allegations
in the report, which already caused controversy by alleging that
neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda are backing the M23 rebel
movement, charges strongly denied by both governments.
Congo's army is famously ill-disciplined, and these
allegations, coupled with M23's seizure of Goma, are likely to
heap pressure on Kabila to push through military reforms.
On Tuesday, the army was driven out of Goma by M23 fighters,
leaving a trail of corpses, burnt-out cars and abandoned
equipment. M23, named after the March 23 rebel peace deal struck
in 2009 and which it claims the government has broken, vowed to
"liberate" all of Congo.
Previous U.N. reports have implicated Congolese soldiers in
running lucrative mineral smuggling rackets and carrying out
abuses against the civilian population.