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UN drones for DRC – Rwanda wants clarity

15 January 2013, 16:18

Kigali - Rwanda will not support the UN plans to use surveillance drones against rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo unless legal and security questions around their deployment are answered, the country's foreign minister said on Monday.

The UN is currently looking to strengthen its peacekeeping mission in DRC, where army mutineers have launched a rebel movement in the east called the M23, taking control of large swathes of North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda.

The UN experts have accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the rebels, a charge the two countries have sharply denied.

"We want to have clarity on a number of issues before we will support that [surveillance drones]," Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told a press conference.

"It is about a general sense of mistrust of what can be done with drones much more than an issue with DRC. We would express the same cautions on any country," she said.

If the unmanned aerial vehicles are introduced, it would be a major first for UN peacekeeping operations.

DRC is already home to one of the UN's biggest peacekeeping missions, with more than 17 000 troops, but the forces are spread thin in the huge country and the UN is under orders to cut costs.

Rwanda became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council at the end of January.

"We also want to know as a country representing an entire continent, exactly who [will] receive the information collected. It is all of us on the Security Council?" Mushikiwabo asked.

"They are legal questions, they are security questions and as long as those questions are not clarified, the Rwandan position would be that of caution."

In light of the accusations made by the UN, several Western countries have suspended their aid to Rwanda in the past few months.



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