U.S. President Barack Obama urged Rwandan President Paul Kagame to end all assistance for rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, calling such support “inconsistent” with regional stability.
During a phone call yesterday with Kagame, Obama pressed the importance of “reaching a transparent and credible political agreement that includes an end to impunity” by commanders of rebels, including the M23 group, linked to human rights abuses, according to a White House statement.
The call comes a week after U.S. lawmakers joined human-rights groups in calling on the administration to get tough with Rwanda for backing rebels in the eastern part of Congo. The United Nations says the Rwandan government provided direct support to the M23 rebels that captured the city of Goma in Congo last month.
Obama “expressed his belief that from this crisis should emerge a political agreement that addresses the underlying regional security, economic, and governance issues while upholding” Congo’s territorial integrity, according to the White House statement.
The crisis in Congo has killed 5 million people since 1997 and displaced millions more, according to the U.S. State Department. At stake in the eastern part of Congo, bordering Rwanda and Uganda, are deposits of tin ore, gold, tungsten and coltan, a mineral used in laptops and mobile phones.
Last month, as many as 1,000 Rwandan troops crossed the border into Congo to support rebel operations in the village of Kibumba, according to a letter from the UN Group of Experts that is monitoring the crisis for the Security Council.