Rwanda president: No issue with UN drones in Congo

AP News
Posted: Jan 21, 2013 7:31 AM

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Monday he has no problem with a United Nations proposal to use surveillance drones in neighboring Congo.

Kagame told a news conference that if the U.N. thinks the drones will help achieve peace, then "let them do it." He added that he doesn't think Rwanda has the power to stop such a U.N. deployment. Earlier in January, the U.N. outlined its case to the Security Council to use surveillance drones in Congo for the first time but ran into opposition from Rwanda's U.N. ambassador, who expressed reservations over the plan.

Drones are being increasingly used in Western military operations but there are suspicions, especially in developing nations, that they will become a new intelligence-gathering tool for the West.

Kagame also said he thinks an African peacekeeping force deployed to Congo would achieve better results than the U.N. force now there. That force, known as MONUSCO, has more than 17,700 U.N. peacekeepers and over 1,400 international police, but it was unable to contain violence between M23 rebels and the Congolese army that broke out late last year.

Kagame reiterated denials that Rwanda has helped aid M23. Those accusations, contained in a U.N. report, have led several countries to suspend aid to Rwanda.

"The bigger problem in DRC has not been identified and they prefer to see Rwanda as the problem. Even the Congolese themselves, if they continue to see Rwanda as the problem, then this situation is not heading anywhere," Kagame said. He said the bigger problems in Congo have to do with governance and internal strife.

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Kagame advocated for an African Union-sponsored standby military force to intervene in African conflicts. He said the crisis in Mali should have been resolved by Africans. French military forces have moved into Mali to fight extremist Islamist rebels. On Sunday, France said that some 400 troops from Nigeria, Togo and Benin had arrived in Mali to help train an African force for Mali. Troops from Chad also have arrived.