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Security Council mission warns of sanctions against armed groups

ENTEBBE, 9 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - A UN Security Council mission arrived in Uganda on Wednesday and told reporters that the UN would increase pressure on illegal armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"Sanctions will be imposed against armed groups that refuse to disarm," said the head of the mission, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, who is also the French ambassador to the UN.

The mission began a 10-day tour of the Great Lakes region on Saturday with stops in the DRC, Burundi, before Uganda and Rwanda, and finally Tanzania.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe, de La Sablière said was important that the Congolese army now "engage in more robust action with the support of [the UN Mission in the DRC] MONUC to deal with the situation in eastern DRC".

Thousands of rebels from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda operate from eastern DRC.

In Burundi on Tuesday, de La Sablière said that the Security Council might also take punitive action against the Burundian Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) rebels in eastern DRC.

"Burundians are right to worry that the FNL issue is lasting too long," he said. "[The FNL] had better negotiate with the government or else sanctions can be imposed."

De La Sablière also told reporters that the number of UN peacekeeping troops in Burundi might soon be reduced.

Government spokesman Karenga Ramazani said on Tuesday that the Burundi government had asked the UN to place more emphasis on reconstruction and development than on peacekeeping.

"It seems that the delegation understands our wishes," he said.

However, Karenga said the UN should expand MONUC's mandate in DRC and increase its troop strength in the border area with Burundi to prevent the FNL from launching raids on their homeland.

"We are studying the issue of the mandate of MONUC," de La Sablière said on Wednesday in Uganda.

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