THE Democratic Republic of Congo accused its neighbour Rwanda on Thursday of sending troops into its territory in support of Congolese Tutsi rebels and requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
Rwanda quickly denied the accusation, calling it â€œridiculousâ€, while the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUC) said it was checking the allegation by sending patrols along the border in eastern North Kivu province.
Congolese foreign minister Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi said a Rwandan incursion took place after his governmentâ€™s army had come under repeated attack from Tutsi rebels led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda in North Kivu.
â€œThe Rwandans are indeed there. They now want to take Goma (the North Kivu provincial capital),â€ Nyamwisi said.
For more than a decade, east Congo has been a volatile tinderbox of ethnic tension that grew out of Rwandaâ€™s 1994 genocide and are at the root of the conflict in North Kivu.
â€œYesterday, through your patriotism, you foiled the plan of those people who dream only of our countryâ€™s Balkanisation and surrender,â€ Congolese President Joseph Kabila said in a televised address to the nation on Thursday.
Rwanda has invaded Congo in the past, including a major intervention during a regional conflict between 1998 and 2003.
Congoâ€™s UN ambassador Ileka Atoki sent a letter to the Security Council, asking it to demand the immediate withdrawal of Rwandan troops from Congo territory. It was unclear if the council would discuss the issue.
Atoki said Kinshasa had hard evidence to back its charges. â€œWe have captured some Rwandan soldiers,â€ Atoki said, adding that his government would soon show them to the media.
Congo seeks UN meeting over â€˜attackâ€™