U.S. officials said the M23 leaders are responsible for carrying out terrible acts of violence against civilians and children in the DRC.
As an insurgency launched by mutinous soldiers against the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to roil the troubled African nation, the United States has joined others in the international community in targeting the group’s leaders with economic sanctions.
The U.S. Treasury Department has blacklisted Baudoin Ngaruye and Colonel Innocent Kaina for recruiting child soldiers, a practice banned by international law. Ngaruye is also accused of targeting children, and for killing, maiming and committing sexually violent acts against them. Any assets the men have in the United States are now frozen and U.S. citizens and U.S. companies are barred from doing business with them.
The move follows a decision by the United Nations earlier this month to impose a similar freeze on any assets held by financial institutions in UN member nations and to bar them from international travel.
U.S. officials said the M23 leaders are responsible for carrying out terrible acts of violence against civilians and children in the DRC. The group is comprised largely of troops who defected from the DRC’s military in April and May, complaining that the government had not effectively implemented an earlier peace agreement. With the backing of the Rwandan government, the mutinous troops were able to capture a number of major towns in North Kivu, including the provincial capital of Goma.
Although it has since withdrawn from the town, the group continues to maintain a strong presence a few kilometers north of the city, despite agreements by regional leaders calling on the M23 to withdraw to 20 km outside Goma. It also controls a large swath of territory along the border with Rwanda. Negotiations between the Congolese government and the M23, mediated by the Ugandan Government, began in Kampala last week and are ongoing.
We continue to engage the key stakeholders. Every effort must be taken to hold M23’s leaders accountable, as the international community works to help the parties achieve a sustainable end to the conflict in the Congo and throughout the Great Lakes region.