(Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has spurned a United Nations offer of support for a military campaign against Rwandan Hutu rebels inside the country, and criticized international interference in its affairs.
U.N. peacekeepers were due to support an operation against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) but suspended cooperation last week because two Congolese generals tapped to lead the campaign are accused of human rights abuses.
The MONUSCO peacekeepers say their support is key to defeating the estimated 1,400 rebels, who have been at the heart of conflict in Africa’s Great Lakes region for two decades.
But Kabila told diplomats in the capital the operation in the east had already started without help from the MONUSCO peacekeepers, and the government would work alone.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo today renounces, in the most official manner, the support of MONUSCO to track the FDLR. We are going to track them alone,” government spokesman Lambert Mende quoted Kabila as saying.
Congo announced the formal start of operations against the FDLR more than two weeks ago but no combat has been reported and some analysts doubt the appetite of the government to wage the fight unilaterally.
(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and John Stonestreet)