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Museveni: UN Peace-keepers in DRC Are Military Tourists

The UN peacekeeping force has a total of 19,000 men in DR Congo, more than 6,000 of whom are deployed in the eastern region affected by the M23 rebel group\'s recent military offensive. But the AFP news agency quotes Museveni, a major peace broker between the rebels and the Joseph Kabila government, as saying the UN presence is some sort of military tourism.
President Yoweri Museveni has once again attacked the United Nations for its inability to prevent conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Museveni on Saturday described the role of the UN peacekeeping force in DRC, MONUSCO, as shameful while at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Just over a week ago, Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete attacked the UN for its failure to stop the M23 rebels from capturing the town of Goma. The two leaders reportedly told the UN under Secretary for Field Support, Susana Malccora that the region was disappointed with the MONUSCO.

The UN peacekeeping force has a total of 19,000 men in DR Congo, more than 6,000 of whom are deployed in the eastern region affected by the M23 rebel group's recent military offensive. But the AFP news agency quotes Museveni, a major peace broker between the rebels and the Joseph Kabila government, as saying the UN presence is some sort of military tourism.

Inhibited by their mandate of peace keeping and not enforcement, as they have been in other instances in DR Congo over the years, the UN force was unable to stop the rebels' advance or prevent them from seizing Goma city on November 20.

Uganda, which has denied damning UN reports accusing it and Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, favours the creation of a special neutral force to rein in M23 as well as a DRC-based Rwandan rebel group.

The situation in the eastern DRC topped the diplomatic agenda at the summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community. Earlier efforts to end the conflict were spearheaded by Museveni under the 11-member International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). It was ICGLR that eventually put pressure on the rebels to withdraw from Goma one week ago. They pulled out after the Kabila government agreed to discuss some of their demands.

M23 is a group of former rebels who were integrated into the DRC regular army under a March 23, 2009 agreement, but mutinied again in April this year.

A delegation of M23 negotiators is in Kampala for talks with the DRC government aimed at ending a crisis that has led to widespread rights abuses and displacement and sparked fears of an all-out regional conflict.

At least 500 people are displaced by the eight-month old fighting, while both M23 and DRC government forces accuse each other of torture and rape of civilians in Goma and Sake towns.

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