July 27, 2013

DRC issues international arrest warrants for M23 rebel leaders

The Democratic Republic of Congo has issued international arrest warrants for four leaders of the March 23 movement (M23) who have found shelter in Rwanda, a government spokesman says.
Former M23 President Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero
Former M23 President Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero. The Kinshasa government has issued an international arrest warrant for him

Lambert Mende said in a statement published late on Friday that the warrants for crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and other offenses were handed over to the Rwandan government on Thursday.

The United Nations had already imposed sanctions on the four. The leaders are former M23 President Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero and military commanders Baudouin Ngaruye, Eric Badege and Innocent Zimurinda.

The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Congolese military.

The UN and Kinshasa have repeatedly accused Rwanda and Uganda of helping the rebels in Congo.

Rwanda and Uganda have always denied the charges that they are backing the M23, but Kigali and Kampala have never publicly condemned the militia.

The M23 rebels and several other armed groups are active in the eastern Congo and are fighting for control of the country’s vast mineral resources, such as gold, the main tin ore cassiterite, and coltan (columbite-tantalite), which is used to make many electronic devices, including cell phones.

Since early May 2012, nearly three million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 500,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.

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