Since the end of the Congo Wars in the early 2000s, thousands of United Nations peacekeeping troops have been stationed in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but that peacekeeping force was criticized Sunday over how it handled a recent rebel insurgency.
The authorities of neighboring Uganda have expressed displeasure over the the U.N. troops’ failure to prevent the M23 rebel group from advancing through much of the Congo’s North Kivu province, eventually taking the capital of Goma last month. The M23 rebels eventually withdrew from the city of 400,000 last week.
“It is a very big shame,” said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni—who took part in talks with the rebels and the Congolese government—referring to the U.N. peacekeeping force, MONUSCO.
“It is some sort of military tourism,” he said, according to AFP. Helicopters operated by MONUSCO attacked the M23 rebels but failed to prevent them from moving on Goma. He added, “So many people in uniforms and they just sit on problems.”
U.N. officials have said that they can only support the Congolese army in its operations against the rebels, but cannot launch a full-scale assault against them.
An estimated 4,000 more African soldiers will arrive in eastern Congo within the next week, the The Daily Telegraph reports. They will patrol a buffer zone near Congo’s border with Rwanda in order to curb any future advances by the M23, which began its insurgency in April of this year.
Museveni was meeting with other African states in a summit that agreed to create a new neutral peacekeeping force, reported AFP.
“I am confident that with the neutral international force, we can solve these problems with logistical support from the United Nations,” Museveni said, according to AFP.
Peace talks between the M23 and the Congolese government started over the weekend in Uganda’s capital Kampala, but started off on the wrong foot, reported Uganda’s Daily Monitor. The Congolese government threatened to pull out of the talks, saying the M23 is trying to slander it.
“It’s unacceptable for people who have AK7 as their legitimacy to taint the image of those elected by the people Congo,” said Congolese minister of foreign affairs Raymond Tshibanda.
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