Picture: 123RF/ZABELIN
Picture: 123RF/ZABELIN

Kinshasa — The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) pledged on Wednesday to support an arrest warrant against a warlord accused of mass rape and other abuses in the country’s conflict-ridden east.

The UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (Monusco)  said the warrant against Guidon Shimiray Mwissa, who heads a coalition of armed groups dubbed NDC-R, was a “positive development” for security in North Kivu province.

Shimiray Mwissa is accused of wreaking havoc on civilians and is already under UN, US and French sanctions.

The arrest warrant, issued by the military prosecutor’s office on June 7 and seen by Radio France Internationale (RFI), says Shimiray Mwissa is sought for taking part in an insurrectional movement, recruiting child fighters and committing crimes against humanity by rape.

“We will support the DRC military prosecutors in executing this warrant,” Monusco spokesperson Florence Marchal said at a weekly press conference. “Since the beginning of the year, nearly 300 allegations of conflict-related sexual violence have been reported in the Masisi territory [in North Kivu].”

The UN joint human rights office verified 111 cases between January and April, the spokesperson said, of which half were attributed to the NDC-R.

The 16,000-strong Monusco mission — the UN’s biggest and costliest with an annual budget of more than $1bn) — has been present in the DRC for 20 years.

President Félix Tshisekedi has pledged to tackle militia violence in the east since taking office in January. Dozens of armed groups are active in the lawless, mineral-rich region, the battleground for a 1998-2003 war which claimed millions of lives.