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RS says: The US is increasing its pressure on Rwanda.
Reuters, 01/10 20:47 CET
By Richard Lough
NAIROBI (Reuters) – The United States on Monday called on Rwanda to publicly denounce rebels who have seized swathes of eastern Congo in an appeal that highlighted its frustration over Kigali’s alleged role in its neighbour’s conflict.
Rwanda has repeatedly denied supporting the M23 rebel movement in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, blaming Kinshasa and major world powers for failing to tackle the problems that led to the uprising.
But it has not so far publicly condemned the M23 movement and donors, including the United States, one of Kigali’s closest allies, have slashed aid to the tiny central African nation as the result of a United Nations report which concluded Rwandan officials were supplying the rebels with weapons and logistics.
“It is not and should not be too much to ask the government of Rwanda to denounce a rebel group that is preying on the lives of people or undermining the stability of a neighbour,” Johnnie Carson, the
U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said in a teleconference on Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced from their homes by fighting since the M23, which has links to Bosco Ntaganda, a warlord wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges, took up arms in April.
“The M23 is led by individuals who are ICC indictees, is led by people who carried out serious human rights violations so it should not be too much to ask the government of Rwanda to do this,” said Carson.
The rebels say they are fighting to try to ensure full implementation of a 2009 peace deal that ended a previous rebellion which U.N. experts said was also backed by Rwanda.
Contacted for reaction after Carson’s comments, a Rwandan foreign ministry official directed Reuters to comments from President Paul Kagame denying accusations his country backed the rebels made during a U.N. meeting in New York last week.
Kagame and Congolese President Joseph Kabila met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly but no breakthrough was made.
Kagame last week said that “solving the crisis will be impossible if the international community continues to define the issue erroneously.”
A proposed African force that would be neutral and tasked with eliminating all rebels operating in eastern Congo has not yet materialised.
Carson said Kabila also had a duty to ensure peace and stability in his own country but Western nations have lined up to punish Rwanda, whose army fought two wars in Congo during the 1990s, for meddling in its neighbour’s latest conflict.
(Reporting by Richard Lough; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
Copyright 2012 Reuters.
(Reuters) – The Netherlands has suspended 5 million euros ($6.15 million) in aid to Rwanda over its reported support for rebels in Congo, a spokeswoman said on Thursday, hours after Kigali said a similar move by the United States was regrettable and would be proved wrong.
The Dutch reaction to a report from United Nations experts saying Kigali was backing insurgents in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo follows Washington’s $200,000 cut in military aid at the weekend.
A spokeswoman for the Dutch foreign ministry said the suspended aid was to have been used for improving Rwanda’s judicial system and that support to non-governmental organizations would continue.
The Dutch government would discuss future aid to Rwanda with other European Union governments and resumption would require an immediate end to Rwandan support for rebels in Congo, she said.
Kigali did not immediately respond to the Dutch move but Rwanda has regularly denied having any link to eastern Congolese rebels and said earlier on Thursday that the U.S. move had been “regrettable” and based on a flawed report.
“It would have been better for the U.S. or any other of our partners to actually take a decision based on clear evidence, not on allegations,” Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said.
The U.S. cut was seen as a significant shift in policy because Washington has stood by Rwanda in the past despite the tiny nation’s long history of involvement in wars in its vast, unstable neighbor since a 1994 genocide.
Asked if the military aid cut had damaged relations with the United States, Mushikiwabo said: “I don’t think so.”
Clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels have forced thousands of people to flee their homes in the last 48 hours, adding to some 260,000 people already displaced since April.
Mushikiwabo also brushed aside a report in Britain’s Guardian newspaper that a U.S. official had warned Rwanda’s leaders they could face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for arming groups responsible for atrocities in the Congo.
“Let’s just take the wildest guess and say that the U.S. government actually does believe that (the leaders might be charged). They wouldn’t announce it through a journalist. That’s not how the U.S. government functions,” she said.
“There is no truth to that. Not only is there no truth to that but it also shows how people are just going wild with this whole Congo thing.”
The U.N. experts accused high-ranking Rwandan officials of backing the Congolese rebels with arms, ammunition and supplies but Mushikiwabo said Rwanda had no reason to support an uprising in a neighboring country.
Rwandan officials had met the authors of the U.N. report in Kigali to give their side of the story, she said. The report’s final version is due to be released around November.
“We went through each one of them carefully, every single allegation, and gave our own rebuttal … I think when the report becomes final in November it should be very clear that this interim report was just a compilation of allegations, a lot of fabrications,” she said.
“What does a photo of a uniform prove? I can get a uniform sewn here in Kigali any time and put it in a report. So what I think is that this report is very superficially plausible but people really need to look at it.”
The M23 rebellion takes its name from a 2009 peace accord the rebels say was violated by Kinshasa.
It has been swelled by hundreds of defectors from the Congolese army who walked into the bush in support of fugitive Congolese General Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the ICC on war crimes charges.
(Writing by James Macharia and David Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland)
DAKAR (Reuters) – U.N. experts have evidence Rwanda’s defence minister and two top military officials have been backing an army mutiny in the east of neighbouring Congo, according to notes of their briefing to a closed-door U.N. committee seen by Reuters on Thursday.
The evidence is the strongest yet to indicate high-level support within President Paul Kagame’s government for the so-called M23 rebellion, whose stand-off with Congolese forces has caused thousands to flee their homes in the east of the country.
M23 is the name of a group of several hundred soldiers from the Congolese army that have
rallied behind Bosco Ntaganda, a mutinous army general with past links to Rwanda who is sought for arrest by the Democratic Republic of Congo and wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.
Diplomats say U.N. Security Council member the United States is delaying release of findings of the U.N. Group of Experts, an independent specialist panel on Congo security issues, to allow Rwanda to respond to accusations likely to test ties between the ex-foes.
Rwanda has repeatedly backed armed movements in its eastern neighbour during the last two decades, citing a need to tackle Rwandan rebels operating out of Congo’s eastern hills. But this time it has strenuously denied being involved.
The June 13 briefing of the U.N. sanctions committee said the UN Group of Experts had evidence that Rwandan army members had entered Congo to reinforce rebel positions and had provided logistical support and safe passage for Congo rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda and his forces in Rwanda, the notes said.
“The experts have implicated several high-ranking Rwandan officials who are directly involved,” said the contemporaneous notes of the briefing in New York seen by Reuters, which added the U.N. material had been verified by five separate sources.
The notes listed those officials supporting M23 as Defence Minister James Kaberebe; chief of defence staff Charles Kayonga; and General Jacques Nziza, a military adviser to Kagame.
Kaberebe, they said, was “in constant contact with M23″.
No comment from the defence ministry was immediately available. However Kagame this week said the instability had nothing to do with Rwanda and accused others of trying to blame Kigali for Congo’s internal problems.
An M23 officer contacted by Reuters denied receiving Rwandan support, adding that any such backing would have allowed them to gain ground in the battle with regular Congolese forces.
“If a single time the Rwandans had supported us we wouldn’t be on this hill – we would be far away from this. This action is purely Congolese,” Colonel Vianney Kazarama said by phone.
The UN briefing was verbal. A written report of the Group of Experts findings is due in coming days to be submitted to the U.N. sanctions committee ahead of its final publication. There is no indication at this stage of any push to impose UN sanctions on either Rwanda or Congo.
The Group of Experts declined to comment on the notes or the content of the briefing. Separately, Congo’s Communications Minister Lambert Mende told Reuters he was aware of allegations against senior Rwandan officials, without naming them.
“There are some people of a certain rank cited in the Group of Experts’ report and by our own intelligence services … It’s the obligation of the Rwandan president and government to show that they are different entities to those cited,” Mende said.