DRC objects to UN's admonitions

2010-09-18 12:20

Kinshasa - The Democratic Republic of Congo said on Friday it "had not expected the admonitions" of the UN Security Council and denied recent mass rapes in the country were linked to the government, a spokesperson told AFP.

The DR Congo officers deployed in the Kivu provinces "were put into offensive contact with these groups of rapists, we beseiged them", said government spokesperson Lambert Mende, when questioned by AFP.

"We are the victims. Do you think that the rapists are tied to the DRC government? We know who the rapists are, even if they are in the DRC, they have no connection with the government," Mende said.

Hundreds of women and children were raped by militia groups in eastern DR Congo in late July and early August, in acts that drew widespread international condemnation. UN peacekeepers were also criticised for their slow response.

A Security Council presidential statement urged the DR Congo government to do more to catch the perpetrators and help the victims, while also telling peacekeepers to improve their relations with the far-flung communities that bear the brunt of the militia actions.

The Council called on the DR Congo government "to ensure a swift and fair prosecution of the perpetrators of these terrible crimes and to inform the Security Council on measures undertaken".

It also called on the government "to condemn these atrocities and provide effective assistance to the victims of sexual abuse".

The government's armed forces "should be helped to pursue the people (the rapists), arrest them, judge and punish them. We are already busy doing this ourselves", added Mende, who is also the communications minister.

He said that the Mai-Mai militia and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), rebels from neighbouring Rwanda, were "their partners and the enemies of the government armed forces".

"Why is it the government that is criticised? We should be encouraged to continue the clampdown we are engaged in against these people," he concluded.

On September 7, a top UN peacekeeping official said UN troops had failed the women and child victims of mass rapes in eastern DRC.

Since the start of September, the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC (MONUSCO) has increased its presence in the Walikale region, west of Nord Kivu, where some 380 women were raped in July, according to local authorities.