October 4, 2016 (JUBA) - The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has asked the United Nations Mission in the country (MONUSCO) to "remove" a group of South Sudanese rebels airlifted on "humanitarian ground" to the Central African nation.
- South Sudanese rebels pictured in Jonglei state on 31 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
Kinshasa said the 750 armed opposition soldiers were a security risk to residents in Eastern DRC, various media, quoting local and UN officials, reported.
MONUSCO said it soldiers "extracted" South Sudan’s ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar, also commander in chief of the rebels at the DRC border on 17 August, 2016.
The peacekeepers also helped "exhausted" SPLM-IO on "humanitarian ground", rescuing up to 750 soldiers whom it said were in touch "extremely bad shape" after nearly two months of being pursued by government soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir.
Machar proceeded for treatment in Khartoum, where he has remained for the last two months but his fighters are in the care of MONUSCO in largely lawless eastern Congo.
Juba summoned Kinshasa ambassador to South Sudan in August to protest hosting of hostile forces by a friendly country. It is not clear if the latest directives from DRC to UN is a fruit of Juba diplomatic pressure.
Officials quoted by the BBC told MONUSCO that local residents in eastern Congo have accused the SPLM-IO of posting security risk to the region.
DRC is the second country, after Ethiopia, to reject presence of the SPLM IO. Ethiopian Prime Minister recently told Foreign Policy magazine that Machar, who was replaced by Taban Deng Gai, will not be welcomed to Addis Ababa unless he denounce violence.
Both Kinshasa and Addis Ababa are facing internal crisis following weeks of protest due to delayed elections and the demand for political representation, respectively.