Clashes among DR Congo rebels leave 10 dead

Updated 26 February 2013
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Clashes among DR Congo rebels leave 10 dead

GOMA, DR Congo: Fighting between rival factions of the M23 rebel movement in the northeastern Rutshuru region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has left 10 dead, a hospital source in Rutshuru said yesterday.
The provincial hospital said that 10 bodies were counted after the clashes on Sunday night, while two injured men were taken in for medical treatment.
The fighting broke out because of differences within the ranks of the March 23 Movement (M23) over the stance the rebels should take regarding a peace deal that was signed Sunday by regional leaders in Addis Ababa, according to a Western military source. The goal of the accord was to bring peace to war-torn eastern DR Congo.
Supporters of General Sultani Makenga, the military chief of M23, reportedly battled those of Jean-Marie Runiga, the movement’s political leader. Runiga had earlier announced plans to resume fighting against the DR Congo’s army because peace talks in the Ugandan capital Kampala between the rebels and the Kinshasa government were getting nowhere.
Makenga was believed to oppose a resumption of conflict. Both men went to the Rwandan capital Kinshasa last week to hold talks, according to a Western source in Goma, the chief town in troubled North Kivu province. When they returned, Runiga was placed under house arrest in Bunagana, a town on the border with Uganda, the source added.
On Sunday, while 11 heads of state, including presidents Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, were in the Ethiopian capital to sign the framework agreement in the presence of UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Runiga decided that he would return to Rutshuru.
When he arrived in the town, situated in the south of the zone controlled by M23, Runiga’s soldiers started fighting those backing Makenga. Major population movements were reported as civilians fled, heading for Bunagana, or pouring in their hundreds into Uganda.
The Addis Ababa accord aims to encourage the reform of weak institutions in the vast DR Congo and calls for countries in the region to stop interfering in each other’s affairs. The United Nations has accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing M23, which both nations strongly deny.
At the UN headquarters in New York on Sunday, Security Council members renewed a previous condemnation of the rebels and “reiterate their demand that the M23 cease immediately attempts to establish an illegitimate parallel administration,” said a statement released by the council.
M23 leaders say that the aim of their insurgency, which began last year, is to force Kinshasa fully to implement the terms of a peace deal reached in 2009.


Russia says US building ‘visa wall’ after Bolshoi dancers denied entry

Updated 32 min 32 sec ago
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Russia says US building ‘visa wall’ after Bolshoi dancers denied entry

  • The Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the United States’ decision to refuse visas to Russian prima ballerina Olga Smirnova and soloist dancer Jacopo Tissi.
  • Russian Foreign Ministry: “They are trying to fence off Americans from Russians with a visa wall, as we’ve said before, making trips of our citizens to the USA practically impossible.”

MOSCOW: Russia said on Saturday the United States was trying to fence off Russians with a “visa wall” after two Bolshoi ballet dancers were refused visas to perform in New York.
The Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the United States’ decision to refuse visas to Russian prima ballerina Olga Smirnova and soloist dancer Jacopo Tissi, who were due to perform at a Lincoln Center gala.
“This did not happen even during the Cold War,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.
“But today, influential forces in the USA, preoccupied with trying to pressure Russia hard, do not stop at anything... They are trying to fence off Americans from Russians with a visa wall, as we’ve said before, making trips of our citizens to the USA practically impossible,” it said.
Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre said it could not comment because it did not organize the tour and had no information on the visa applications.
“Since the work visa was also not issued on time for Jacopo Tissi, an Italian national, we would like to think that this was related to procedural formalities and not to the current political tensions,” its press office said in emailed comments.
The US embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
On Friday, Kremlin said the United States was deliberately making it difficult for Aeroflot crews to obtain US visas, after the Russian foreign ministry said it could not rule out the possibility that flights between the two countries might have to be halted because of the situation.