UN Eases Weapons Embargo on DR Congo

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution Tuesday that eases a weapons embargo on the Democratic Republic of Congo, a move hailed by Kinshasa as an “injustice repaired.”

The resolution removes a stipulation that previously required countries to inform the 15-member council of arms sales or military assistance to the Congolese government.

Kinshasa has long complained that the requirement created an unnecessary bureaucratic hurdle in its battle with militia groups.

The DRC has been subject to the UN arms embargo since 2000, originally imposed over widespread violence in the central African nation.

In 2008, the Security Council amended the sanctions regime to apply only to armed groups.

The rules still required the government to notify a monitoring committee of arms purchases, however.

Earlier this year, the Council prolonged the regime but reduced the notification requirements for certain weapons purchases.

Kinshasa continued to push for the restrictions to be lifted amid a surge of clashes with M23 militia in the east.

Diplomats in New York came under increasing pressure to act amid allegations that they were obstructing the Congolese military from protecting civilians.

“A battle won, an injustice repaired,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya wrote on Twitter after the resolution was passed.

The Council also voted to renew the mandate of the UN’s DRC peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, for another year.

The M23 or “March 23 Movement” first leapt to global prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma, an important commercial hub of about a million people in North Kivu province.

A joint offensive by UN and Congolese troops drove the rebels out in 2013. But after lying mostly dormant for years, the M23 resumed fighting last year after accusing the government of failing to honor an agreement to incorporate its fighters into the army.

The DRC has accused neighboring Rwanda of backing the M23, which Kigali has repeatedly denied.

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