Congo back in charge of Goma, U.N. fingers Rwanda again

Mon Dec 3, 2012 2:09pm EST
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By Ed Stoddard

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Congo's government re-established control over the eastern city of Goma on Monday after rebels withdrew, and U.N. experts made new allegations that Rwandan soldiers took part in the insurgents' capture of the city.

The M23 rebel movement pulled its fighters out of the North Kivu provincial capital in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Saturday after seizing it from fleeing U.N.-backed government forces and holding it for 11 days.

But the situation remained tense and uncertain in the absence of any definitive peace accord to end the eight-month-old insurgency, which has displaced thousands of civilians in a region that is a tinderbox of ethnic and political conflict.

In a development likely to stoke diplomatic tensions, a group of experts tasked by the U.N. Security Council has presented new evidence alleging M23 received "direct support" from the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) to capture Goma on November 20.

The allegations, made in a November 26 letter to the Security Council, said RDF units operated alongside M23 fighters in the rebels' advance on Goma. It added that on November 20, "a mixture of M23 and RDF troops clandestinely entered into Goma from the Rwandan town of Gisenyi through small streets situated between the town's two official border crossings".

Security Council diplomats confirmed to Reuters the authenticity of the experts' letter.

Rwanda has strongly and repeatedly rejected previous allegations made by the same U.N. experts that the Rwandan government has created, equipped, trained and directly commanded the M23 rebellion in Congo's North Kivu. Similar accusations against Uganda's government have also been denied by Kampala.

In Goma on Monday, North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku, who had left when the rebels took over, and Congolese Interior Minister Richard Muyej were supervising the resumption of government operations and authority over the city.   Continued...

People dance to celebrate government army FARDC soldiers return to Goma December 3, 2012. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic