Newscast Media KIGALI—From one president to another, Barack Obama placed a call to Rwanda’s Paul Kagame to underscore that any support to Congolese rebel group M23 is “inconsistent with Rwanda’s desire for stability and peace” in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and advised Kagame to abide by commitments made in November to permanently “end all support for armed groups” in the country.
Obama told Kagame that it is important to reach “a transparent and credible political agreement that includes an end to impunity for M23 commanders and others who have committed serious human rights abuses” and that the crisis in eastern DRC should be resolved by a “political agreement that addresses the underlying regional security, economic and governance issues while upholding the DRC’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
An estimated 5 million people have been killed and millions displaced since 1998 by a variety of rebel groups battling to control the eastern DRC. In 2012, a new group of rebels rose up. Known as the M23 that has created instability in the region.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters December 18 that the Obama administration is continuing to call for Ntaganda’s arrest, as well as that of Sylvestre Mudacumura, who is also charged with committing atrocities and has been issued an ICC warrant.
“The current conflict in the eastern Congo with M23 underscores the continuing impunity the perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses continue to enjoy in the Congo,” Nuland said.
Along with identifying individuals on the ground who commit abuses and subjecting them to U.S. sanctions, Nuland said, the United States is also reviewing its list of those who are aiding and abetting armed groups for possible sanctions designation. “We look at the whole landscape,” Nuland said.
If Kagame fails to heed Obama’s advice, the next phase, as was pointed out by the State Department’s Victoria Nuland is to subject those aiding and abetting the rebels to sanctions. Finally, after that phase, as we saw in Libya and are seeing in the Middle East, the next step usually points to regime change.