A confidential report to the UN Security Council, has accused Rwanda of providing training, financing and logistical support through early 2016 for Burundian rebels, seeking to oust Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.
This was disclosed on Friday in New York by a panel of six independent experts, appointed by the UN to monitor Security Council sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo.
A report from the UN said the panel had confidentially reported in February that 18 Burundian combatants in eastern Congo confessed that they had been recruited in a refugee camp in Rwanda in mid-2015 and trained by instructors, who included Rwandan military personnel.
The experts’ latest report, due to be discussed by the Security Council sanctions committee said that a similar outside support continued through early 2016.
The group of experts wrote in the report that the exercise took the form of training, financing and logistical support for Burundian combatants crossing from Rwanda to DRC.
“The group met with Rwandan nationals, as well, who said they had been involved in the training of Burundian combatants or had been sent to the DRC to help support the Burundian opposition,” they said.
The UN experts said they had presented their findings to the Rwandan government which denied any involvement, noting it was unaware of recruitment of Burundian refugees in Mahama (refugee) camp.
The experts also reported that several Congolese officers reported to them that North Korea had supplied Congolese troops and police with pistols. They also disclosed that it sent 30 instructors to provide training for the presidential guard and Special Forces.
There is a UN arms embargo on North Korea that prevents it from importing or exporting weapons and training. An arms embargo on Congo requires states to notify the Security Council sanctions committee of any arms sales or training.
The experts said they found that several Congolese army officers, as well as several police deployed abroad in a UN mission, appeared to have North Korean pistols.
The report added that Congolese officers said the pistols were delivered by North Korea to the Congolese port of Matadi in early 2014. The group also found that the same type of pistols was available for sale on the black market in Kinshasa.
The experts said they had asked North Korea and Congo for information but had not yet received a response. Congolese and North Korean officials had no immediate comment.
Political tension is high in Congo, where opponents of President Joseph Kabila accused him of trying to cling to power beyond the end of his mandate in 2016.
Kabila has not commented on his future.