The U.N. Group of Experts says M23 is backed by neighboring Rwanda, which the Rwandan government of President Paul Kagame denies. Uganda is also accused of backing M23 by the U.N. experts in a report that was leaked to the media last month, and Uganda also denies the allegations.
Observers say it is in Rwanda’s interest to exert influence over areas of eastern Congo bordering Rwanda, where Hutus fled after perpetrating the 1994 genocide inside Rwanda against the country’s Tutsi minority. Exerting influence would enable Rwanda to maintain a buffer zone and to exploit the trade and trafficking of minerals in eastern Congo, say experts including those from the International Crisis Group.
Over the weekend, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Kagame to ask him to intervene and stop the M23 offensive, according to a statement issued at U.N headquarters in New York.
Ban also spoke Sunday to Uganda’s President Museveni, according to Dwyer. Museveni, in his capacity as chairperson of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, indicated that he had spoken to the M23 rebels and called for calm.
Callimachi contributed from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writer Saleh Mwanamilongo in Kinshasa, Congo, and Peter James Spielmann at the United Nations contributed to this story.