Rwanda wins UN seat amid furore

2012-10-20 17:09

Ambassador claims details of his nation’s role in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo strife were leaked to undermine their UN bid.

A United Nations report about Rwanda’s involvement in the rebel movement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was strategically leaked to scupper Rwanda’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

This was according to Rwanda’s ambassador to South Africa, Vincent Karega.

In the report, the Rwandan defence minister is fingered for commanding a rebellion in eastern DRC that is being armed by Rwanda and Uganda.

The report was leaked shortly before a crucial vote in the UN’s General Assembly, where the new non-permanent members of the council were to be elected.

Rwanda, Argentina, Australia, South Korea and Luxembourg won the five available seats for next year. South Africa will step down from the council after its two-year stint.

Karega told City Press in an interview the report leaked to Reuters presented “very few new facts”.

He said: “There are some countries and human rights organisations who oppose us because they don’t like us doing things our own way. They want us to fit into a blueprint.”

Relations between Rwanda and South Africa have been frosty and a new South African ambassador to Kigali presented his credentials this week, after years without an ambassador.

Karega did not say whether South Africa voted in favour of Rwanda at the UN.

“One or two Southern African Development Community countries did not support Rwanda because they are close friends with the DRC.”

DRC President Joseph Kabila is due for a state visit to South Africa this week.

The security council’s “group of experts” said in a confidential report that Rwanda and Uganda, despite their strong denials, continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against DRC government troops in North Kivu province.

“Both Rwanda and Uganda have been supporting M23,” the 44-page report, which was seen by Reuters on Tuesday, states.

“While Rwandan officials coordinated the creation of the rebel movement as well as its major military operations, Uganda’s more subtle support
to M23 allowed the rebel group’s political branch to operate from within Kampala and boost its external relations,” it said.

The commanders of the rebel movement “receive direct military orders from RDF (Rwandan army) General Charles Kayonga”.

The general, according to the report, “in turn acts on instructions from minister of defence General James Kabarebe”.

The report further states: “Rwandan officials exercise overall command and strategic planning for M23. Rwanda continues to violate the arms embargo through direct military support to M23 rebels, facilitation of recruitment, encouragement and facilitation of FARDC (Congolese army) desertions, as well as the provision of arms and ammunition, intelligence, and political advice.

“UPDF (Ugandan army) commanders sent troops and weapons to reinforce specific M23 operations and assisted in M23’s recruitment and weapons procurement efforts in Uganda.”

An interim report from the group of experts, which was published in June, raised similar accusations against Rwanda but with far less detail.
Kigali was furious about that report, saying it was one-sided and contained false allegations.

Rwanda has backed armed movements in the DRC during the past two decades, citing a need to tackle Rwandan rebels operating out of the nation’s eastern hills.

Karega said the council will benefit from Rwanda’s experience.

“We bring a certain knowledge of peace and security which others on the security council don’t have,” he said.

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