DR Congo shuns UN support for rebel offensive

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President Joseph Kabila on Friday launched "consultations" ahead of polls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his foes argue he is seeking to cling to power illegitimately

President Joseph Kabila on Friday launched "consultations" ahead of polls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his foes argue he is seeking to cling to power illegitimately (AFP Photo/Tutondele Miankenda)

Kinshasa (AFP) - The Democratic Republic of Congo said on Sunday it had rejected United Nations support for a joint offensive against Hutu rebels in the country's restive east with a warning against international interference in its affairs.

The UN said Saturday it was pulling out of the operation against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an ethnic Hutu militia based in eastern Congo.

Plans for the campaign hit an impasse when President Joseph Kabila rejected UN demands that two leading Congolese generals accused of human rights violations be replaced.

"The Democratic Republic of Congo is renouncing the help of MONUSCO," government spokesman Lambert Mende said Sunday, referring the UN's 20,000-strong force.

"The president (Kabila) stressed that the Democratic Republic of Congo was a sovereign state," added Mende, after talks between the head of state, MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler and several diplomats.

Congo's military in January announced a unilateral offensive against the estimated 1,500-2,000 FDLR rebels, who have been at the heart of the long-running conflict in Africa's Great Lakes region.

However, UN officials said 10 days ago there has been since been no action on the ground.

Kinshasa has been fighting dozens of rebel and splinter groups during decades of conflict in eastern Congo, much of it fuelled by the lucrative trade in minerals.

The UN move was limited to the planned operation against the FDLR and did not affect other military campaigns against Congo's many other rebel groups.