The bloc’s comments came after a report by UN experts found “direct intervention” by Rwandan forces in the DR Congo.

The European Union has urged Rwanda to stop supporting the rebel group M23, which has seized parts of territory in the North Kivu province in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The DRC – along with the United States and several European countries – has repeatedly accused its smaller Central African neighbor Rwanda of supporting the M23, although Kigali denies the accusation.

The Tutsi rebel group has advanced to within a few tens of kilometers of the North Kivu capital Goma in recent months.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday that the European bloc had urged Rwanda “to stop supporting the M23 and to use all means to pressure the M23 to comply with the decisions of the EAC. [East African Community]at a November summit in Angola.

“It also strongly urges all states of the region to prevent any form of support for armed groups operating in the DRC,” Borrell said.

He called on Kinshasa to “take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population on its territory”.

Under heavy international pressure to disarm, M23 attended a ceremony last week to deliver the strategic city of Kibumba to an East African force as a “goodwill gesture” for peace.

The EAC also said the group should withdraw to the border between the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. However, the Congolese army promptly called the transfer of Kibumba a “sham”.

Borrell’s comments came after a United Nations expert report on the DRC indicated it had gathered evidence of “direct intervention” by Rwandan forces in DRC territory between November 2021 and October 2022.

The report says Rwandan forces launched operations to reinforce the M23 against the mainly Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – notably supplying weapons, ammunition and uniforms.

Kigali sees the FDLR as a threat that justifies interventions in the DRC.

Rwanda has also accused the DRC – where presidential elections come December – of using the conflict for political purposes and of “fabricating” a November massacre of at least 131 civilians.

A United Nations investigation accused the dead on M23 rebels.

Prior to the massacre, Angola brokered peace talks to pave the way for a ceasefire.

In a statement on Saturday, Kinshasa welcomed the UN experts’ findings, which it said “put an end to Rwanda’s lies and manipulations”.

Given the seriousness of the allegations, it has asked the UN Security Council to examine the expert report with a view to possible sanctions against Rwanda.

Meanwhile, Rwandan President Paul Kagame blamed Kinshasa for the chaos in the unstable eastern regions in his New Year’s address.

“Having spent tens of billions of dollars on peacekeeping over the past two decades, the security situation in eastern Congo is worse than ever,” Kagame said in a statement Saturday.

“To explain this failure, some in the international community are blaming Rwanda, even though they know full well that the real responsibility lies primarily with the government of the DRC. It is high time that the baseless slander of Rwanda ends.”

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