UN still awaiting Kabila go-ahead for DR Congo offensive

Congolese President Joseph Kabila speaks in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, on October 31, 2014 (AFP Photo/Alain Wandimoyi)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations is still waiting for President Joseph Kabila to sign off on a joint military plan to drive out rebels from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN said Friday.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Kabila had not signed a joint directive on the military operation despite appeals by the Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon more than a week ago.

"We are obviously making preparations for this action," Dujarric said. "For such a major operation, it's important that the government be fully on board. The contacts are ongoing."

The UN's 20,000-strong MONUSCO force is preparing to launch the offensive against the Hutu rebels, but the mission's success hinges on an active role by the Congolese government troops.

The rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) are facing military action after failing to meet a January 2 deadline set by the UN and African leaders for them to surrender.

The United Nations is pushing for the disarming of dozens of rebel and splinter groups after two decades of conflict in the eastern DR Congo, much of it fueled by the lucrative trade in minerals.

Ban's special envoy for the region Said Djinnit held meetings on Friday in South Africa, a key contributor of troops to an intervention brigade that would be the first to swing into action against the FDLR.

Djinnit praised South Africa for its "firm support" for the brigade and said he was expecting "prompt and decisive military action against the FDLR, with every effort made to protect the civilian population," a UN statement said following the talks.

Up to 1,500 FDLR rebels are active in a large swath of territory in remote South Kivu, North Kivu and Katanga provinces.

These include ethnic Hutu fighters, some of whom are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who has pushed for military action, accused regional governments this week of "making all kinds of excuses when it comes to FDLR."

"When it comes to the FDLR, it's like, you know, let's wait," said Kagame.