* U.N. wants drones to patrol Congo border
* U.N. says rebels receiving Ugandan, Rwandan support
* Rwanda rejects drone plan
By Jonny Hogg and Elias Biryabarema
KINSHASA/KAMPALA, Jan 11 Democratic Republic of
Congo and Uganda on Friday backed a proposal from U.N.
peacekeepers to deploy unmanned surveillance drones along
Congo's eastern border, where rebels have carved out a fiefdom.
The United Nations says the nine-month insurgency, which has
dragged the mineral-rich region back towards war, has received
cross-border support from Rwanda and Uganda, accusations
strongly denied by both governments.
Herve Ladsous, the U.N. head of peacekeeping, said last week
he had asked the Security Council for three drones to fly along
the porous border in Congo's mountainous east, after thousands
of U.N. peacekeepers failed to prevent rebels capturing the
strategic city of Goma in November.
"The Congolese government welcomes this proposition,"
Congo's Information Minister Lambert Mende told a news
conference in the capital Kinshasa.
"The deployment of three unarmed drones will allow
international troops to refine their management of the
problematic border which separates DRC and Rwanda."
Kampala, which is hosting talks between Congolese
authorities and the rebels despite charges it is backing the
insurgency, gave cautious support for the plan on the condition
the drones are not used for combat purposes.
"Drones can be used for two purposes: you use them for
intelligence or for fighting. If a drone is for intelligence and
it respects sovereignty, it will be alright," Ugandan Defence
Minister Crispus Kiyonga told a news conference in Kampala.
Rwanda, which holds a seat on the Security Council, said
this week it opposed the drones until their use was fully
The country's deputy U.N. ambassador warned that Africa
should not "become a laboratory for intelligence devices from
A U.N. report last year said Rwanda had sent weapons and
troops through the hills which separate the two countries to
support the M23 rebels, who it said received their orders from
top Rwandan officials including the defence minister.
Kigali strongly rejected the reports findings and has in
turn accused Congo of failing to weed out Rwandan rebels
operating in its territory.
Despite the official end in 2003 of a regional war that drew
in a host of neighbouring countries, much of eastern Congo
remains under the control of armed insurgencies and militia
groups accused of rapes and killings. Nearly two decades of
instability have left millions Congolese dead.
The Tutsi-dominated M23, named after a 2009 peace deal that
saw a previous rebellion integrated into the army, initially
took up arms saying the government had failed to respect the
terms of the agreement.
It later expanded its demands and threatened to march across
the vast Central African nation and topple the government of
President Joseph Kabila.
M23 leaders announced a unilateral ceasefire on Tuesday
ahead of a second round of peace talks with the government in
Kampala, boosting hopes of a negotiated end to the uprising.
(Editing by George Obulutsa, Joe Bavier and Alison Williams)