AU ready to contribute to DR Congo peacekeeping force: Ping

AFP , Sunday 15 Jul 2012

The African Union says it is prepared to send troops to put an end to the activities of armed groups Democratic Republic of Congo

The African Union is ready to send troops to the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a peacekeeping force, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping said Sunday.

"The AU is prepared to contribute to the establishment of a regional force to put an end to the activities of armed groups," Ping told African leaders at the opening of the pan-African bloc's summit meeting in Ethiopia.

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila was at the meeting as well as Paul Kagame of Rwanda, currently at odds over Kinshasa's allegations Kigali is supporting a rebellion known as M23, in the mineral-rich eastern Kivu region.

Kabila's government has accused high-ranking Rwandan officers of supporting a rebellion by soldiers who mutinied from DR Congo's regular army.

The allegations echo the findings of a UN panel of experts who last month said Rwanda was supplying arms and fighters to the rebels.

Rwanda has denied involvement and in turn accuses Kinshasa of renewing cooperation with Rwandan Hutu rebels, who have been based in eastern DR Congo since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The M23 mutineers are Tutsi ex-rebels from the Rwandan-backed National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).

They were integrated into the regular army in 2009 as part of a peace deal that followed their failed 2008 offensive on Goma.

But they mutinied in April, demanding better pay and the full implementation of the March 23, 2009 peace deal for which they are named.

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