Regional leaders call for sanctions against the FNL, FDLR and LRA
BUJUMBURA, April 21 (Reuters) - Foreign ministers from Africa's turbulent Great Lakes region on Friday called on the United Nations and African Union to impose sanctions on leaders of rebel armed groups destabilising the area.
Thousands of rebels from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda have taken shelter in largely lawless eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the central African region has been marred by violence and conflict for years.
"The commission has agreed to ask the African Union commission and United Nations to impose sanctions on identified leaders of rebel groups," Burundi's Foreign Affairs Minister Antoinette Batumubwira said in a joint communique for Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda as well as Burundi.
Batumubwira said the countries, whose ministers met in Burundi's capital, were committed to pursuing disarmament.
"The commission recommitted itself to refusing any support to leaders of armed groups that destabilise neighbouring countries," she said.
Groups mentioned include the Lord Resistance Army in Uganda, known for targeting civilians, mutilating survivors and kidnapping some 25,000 children during its 20-year insurgency.
Its commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The other groups are the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which has bases in eastern Congo and refuses to recognise Rwanda's government, and Rwandan Hutu militia Interahamwe, accused of taking part of in Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
In Burundi, which suffered a 12 year civil war, the Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL), which fights sporadically with the Burundian army, was mentioned.
Peace talks between the government and the FNL were due to start this week but failed to get off the ground.
Batumubwira said the ministers had called for a travel ban on FNL leaders and fundraising sanctions.
The group dismissed the demands.
"We have been accused of terrorism, now were are ready to negotiate peace with Burundi' s government," FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana told Reuters. "Now, they say sanctions must be taken against us ... It is meaningless."
[NB - again, Reuters makes no mention of the FNL's persistent attacks on civilians]
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