Official: M23 rebels capture 2 more towns in eastern Congo
By DAN GAINOR
1 September 2013
M23 rebels have now taken full control of two more towns in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, after seizing Goma and Kisangani with the help of a local militia, UN sources said on Wednesday.
The UN’s top aid official, Stephen O’Brien, said the attacks by M23 fighters were an “extremely worrying” development and “a very serious violation of human rights.”
“We call on President (Joseph) Kabila to send international monitors to investigate and hold to account the perpetrators of these serious violations of human rights,” he told reporters in Geneva, where he was meeting with the UN security council.
The UN envoy was making further efforts to get military backing for a new UN-brokered peace agreement for Congo, and he said he hoped “before the end of the week” that the M23 “will have to retreat from these towns.”
O’Brien said he had not been able to obtain “any significant military support” for the peace talks, but said his team had been invited to the capital by the government of President Kabila to make a new appeal for international involvement.
One of Kabila’s top aides, Francois Bogea, said on Wednesday that the new peace agreement, which has been under discussion for some time and appears to have been on the verge of collapsing, could be “delivered in the next two or three weeks.”
Since December, M23 rebels have seized and attacked towns and villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. UN officials said M23, also known as M23 troops or M23-F, were acting as the militia group’s own militia, even though they had received significant military training.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Bogea said M23 was “an organisation that emerged from the Congo Democratic Forces, a group that had received training from the United States and the United Kingdom. It has trained in the United States, in the United Kingdom, and in the Congo.
“It is a small organisation made up of young people,” he added, claiming, without providing any evidence, that the rebels were “not a foreign army, nor