By Sudan Tribune,
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has asked the United Nations Mission in the country (MONUSCO) to “remove” a group of South Sudanese rebels airlifted on “humanitarian ground” to the Central African nation.
Kinshasa said the 750 armed opposition soldiers were a security risk to residents in Eastern DRC, various media, quoting local and UN officials, reported.
MONUSCO said it soldiers “extracted” South Sudan’s ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar, also commander in chief of the rebels at the DRC border on 17 August, 2016.
The peacekeepers also helped “exhausted” SPLM-IO on “humanitarian ground”, rescuing up to 750 soldiers whom it said were in touch “extremely bad shape” after nearly two months of being pursued by government soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir.
Machar proceeded for treatment in Khartoum, where he has remained for the last two months but his fighters are in the care of MONUSCO in largely lawless eastern Congo.
Juba summoned Kinshasa ambassador to South Sudan in August to protest hosting of hostile forces by a friendly country. It is not clear if the latest directives from DRC to UN is a fruit of Juba diplomatic pressure.
Officials quoted by the BBC told MONUSCO that local residents in eastern Congo have accused the SPLM-IO of posting security risk to the region.
DRC is the second country, after Ethiopia, to reject presence of the SPLM IO. Ethiopian Prime Minister recently told Foreign Policy magazine that Machar, who was replaced by Taban Deng Gai, will not be welcomed to Addis Ababa unless he denounce violence.
Both Kinshasa and Addis Ababa are facing internal crisis following weeks of protest due to delayed elections and the demand for political representation, respectively.
DR Congo Deadline for Removal of S Sudan Rebels
By BBC News,
The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been given a week to fly hundreds of South Sudanese fighters out of the country.
The men are loyal to South Sudan’s sacked Vice-President Riek Machar and crossed into the country with him in August following intense violence in the South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
The 750 men have been disarmed and cared for by the UN mission. But Congolese officials say they are now a security risk.
They are being housed in UN camps in the volatile east of DR Congo, near the city of Goma in North Kivu province.
The demand from DR Congo’s government that the men be removed comes after a protest in Goma last Friday.
The South Sudanese fighters have not been in any reported trouble since their arrival.
But residents say they fear a repeat of the fallout of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda when perpetrators of the mass killings set up base in eastern DR Congo.
“In April 1994, the population of North Kivu lived up to their legendary hospitality by welcoming Rwandan refugees,” Jean Paul Lumbu Lumbu, an activist in Goma, said.
“Unfortunately, the same refugees turned into those FDLR rebels and became executioners of North Kivu residents. That is why we deeply fear the gathering of South Sudanese rebels into camps.”
Correspondents say locals in Goma also fear the government of South Sudan, under President Salva Kiir, may exercise a “right of pursuit” across the border, exposing them to fresh conflict.
The UN has confirmed that it has been contacted about the issue but has not commented on whether it will acting on the request to remove them by 10 October.
Fighting between rival forces in Juba in July left hundreds of people dead less than a year after a peace deal was signed in South Sudan.
Mr Machar, who had joined a unity government in April, was also aided by the UN in DR Congo and is now in residence in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.