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UN plans action against Congo's M23 rebels

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The UN Security Council intends to impose sanctions on the leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo's M23 rebels and others violating an arms embargo on the country, the council said in a statement.

"The Security Council expresses its intention to apply targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo," the 15-member council said in the statement obtained by the Reuters news agency on Friday.

The confidential report seen by Reuters earlier in the week alleged Rwandan defence minister James Kabarebe was commanding the insurgency in eastern Congo.

The report by the Security Council's Group of Experts alleged Rwanda, which won a seat on the Security Coucil on Thursday, and its northern neighbour Uganda were arming M23 rebels, who take their name after a peace agreement they signed on March 23 2009.

The Security Council's Group of Experts said despite their strong denials, Rwanda and Uganda continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops.

The council strongly condemned any external support to the M23 rebels, expressing "deep concern at reports indicating that such support continues to be provided to the M23 by neighboring countries".

The Security Council statement on Friday stressed "the urgency of constructive engagement and dialogue between the DRC and its neighbors, especially Rwanda, and the need to address the underlying causes of the conflict in eastern DRC".

The Congolese government on Wednesday demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the UN experts' report.

Louise Mushikiwabo, the Rwandan foreign minister, on Thursday dismissed the idea that action should be taken on the basis of a report that she called flawed and untrue.

She said the priority was to work out how to pacify the region.

"It's wrong. This report is very problematic so anybody who would want to take action based on that report would be really unfortunate," Mushikiwabo told Reuters in an interview.

Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese general wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, controls the rebellion on the ground, and M23 leader Sultani Makenga is in charge of operations and coordination with allied armed groups, the UN report said.


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