(Corrects description of leadership of M23 in paragraph 7)
* Security Council envoys meet Rwandan, Ugandan presidents
* Envoys told M23 rebels a 'symptom, not cause' of Congo's
* Rwanda not happy about U.S. blocking military aid
By Michelle Nichols
KIGALI/KAMPALA, Oct 7 The presidents of Rwanda
and Uganda told U.N. Security Council envoys on Monday that
their countries were not responsible for bringing peace to
neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile east, which
has long been mired in conflict and is bristling with armed
Envoys from the 15-member council met with Rwandan President
Paul Kagame in Kigali and then President Yoweri Museveni in
Kampala after spending two days in Congo visiting the United
Nations' largest peacekeeping operation.
Millions of people have been killed by violence, disease and
hunger since the 1990s as rebel groups have fought for control
of eastern Congo's rich deposits of gold, diamonds, copper,
cobalt and uranium.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said both Kagame
and Museveni described an 18-month rebellion by the M23
guerrilla group as just a symptom and not a cause of Congo's
problems, which were much more deep-seated in issues such as a
lack of governance.
"(They said) it was really up to (Congolese President
Joseph) Kabila to resolve those issues. The international
community could still help, but it wasn't the responsibility of
Rwanda and it wasn't the responsibility of Uganda," Lyall Grant
"They felt that Kabila had made a lot of mistakes and that
he didn't have control of his own troops and that was the
fundamental issue - not anything else about cross-border
interference," he said.
U.N. experts have accused Rwanda of supporting M23, which is
mainly led by ethnic Tutsis, a charge that Kigali has rejected.
The roots of the rebellion in the region lie in the 1994
genocide in Rwanda, where Hutu troops killed 800,000 Tutsis and
Some Security Council envoys described Kagame as defensive
during the meeting. He told them that Rwanda, where Tutsis and
Hutus have reconciled after the genocide, should not be lectured
on what was needed to bring peace to eastern Congo.
"It's going to be the people and the countries in the region
who determine whether or not there is peace," U.S. Ambassador to
the United Nations Samantha Power told reporters after the
meeting with Kagame.
"The armed groups need to be eliminated and every country in
the region needs to use whatever leverage it has to get rid of
those groups," said Power. "That's the only hope the people in
the region have."
'WE ARE NOT HAPPY'
During a visit by the ambassadors to the eastern Congolese
city of Goma on Sunday, U.N. officials said while M23 had
captured global headlines, just as great a threat was posed by
the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and
the Islamist group Allied Democratic Forces
M23 has accused the Congolese army of receiving military
support from the FDLR, an accusation Kinshasa rejects.
Civil society leaders in North Kivu, where Goma is the
capital, told the council envoys that the Congolese government
controlled only about 25 percent of the province, while the rest
was in the hands of dozens of armed groups.
African leaders signed a U.N.-mediated regional accord in
February aimed at ending two decades of conflict in eastern
Congo. Rwanda and Uganda both said they were committed to
implementing the pact, U.N. diplomats said.
Museveni said he had to deploy more troops on the Ugandan
border with Congo because of the threat posed by the ADF. The
Ugandan government says the ADF is allied to elements of
Somalia's al Shabaab movement, an al Qaeda-linked group.
Congolese forces, with the help of a new U.N. Intervention
Brigade that has a mandate to neutralize armed groups,
successfully pushed M23 fighters away from Goma - a city of one
million people - in August. The military defeat forced M23 to
return to peace talks being brokered by the Ugandan government.
During the meeting with Museveni, Lyall Grant said envoys
were told "that there was a real chance of reaching agreement in
the next few days," but diplomats were wary of that prediction
because there were still outstanding issues to be resolved.
The United Nations said on Saturday that a third of child
soldiers who had escaped from M23 were lured from Rwanda with
promises of cash, jobs and education.
The United States, which has called on Rwanda to drop its
support for the M23 rebels, stepped up pressure on Kigali last
week by moving to block military aid over the recruitment of M23
child soldiers in its territory. [ID:ID:nL1N0HT24L]
"I don't expect you to hear me say that we are happy, we are
not," said Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo. "Rwanda
does not tolerate children being enrolled in any way near armed
groups, not in our own army, and that's Rwanda's position."
"Our belief is that once this crisis (in Congo) is resolved,
once we get rid of these armed groups then there will be no
longer the issue of child soldiers," she told reporters.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Christopher Wilson)