Rwanda Information Portal

Rwandan minister commands Congo rebels, says UN report

Rwanda’s defence minister is commanding M23 rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a UN report that also accuses Rwanda and Uganda of arming the group and sending troops to help it launch a deadly attack on UN peacekeepers.

The UN security council’s group of experts say in a confidential report that Rwanda and Uganda – despite their strong denials – continue to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops in North Kivu province.

“Both Rwanda and Uganda have been supporting M23,” says the 44-page report, which Reuters saw on Tuesday.

“While Rwandan officials co-ordinated 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 says.

Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese general wanted by the international criminal court for alleged war crimes, controls the rebellion on the ground and M23 leader Sultani Makenga is in charge of operations and co-ordination with allied armed groups, the UN report says.

Both Ntaganda and Makenga “receive direct military orders from RDF [Rwandan army] chief of defence staff General Charles Kayonga, who in turn acts on instructions from minister of defence General James Kabarebe”, it says.

Uganda and Rwanda have denied the accusations of involvement from the UN experts, who monitor compliance with sanctions and an arms embargo on the Congo. They delivered their report to the security council’s Congo sanctions committee earlier this month.

“Rwandan officials exercise overall command and strategic planning for M23,” the report says. “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,” it says.

Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced as a result of the fighting. M23 has proven so resilient that one senior UN diplomatic source told Reuters that Rwanda had effectively annexed mineral-rich eastern Congo thanks to the rebel force.

The UN peacekeeping chief, Hervé Ladsous, said last month that the rebels had set up de facto administration in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, controlling the people and collecting taxes.

The rebellion is also being funded by traders in Rwanda who are profiting from tin, tungsten and tantalum smuggled across the border from mines in the eastern DRC, according to the UN experts’ report.

Their interim report published in June made similar accusations against Rwanda but with far less detail. Kigali reacted furiously, saying it was one-sided and contained false allegations.

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

The new report says M23 expanded its control of Rutshuru territory with extensive foreign support in July 2012 and took advantage of a recent informal ceasefire “to expand alliances and command proxy operations elsewhere”.

The experts say units of the Ugandan and Rwandan armies “jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July 2012 to take over the major towns in Rutshuru territory, and the [Congolese army] base of Rumangabo”.

During the attacks, the rebels killed a UN peacekeeper and fired on a UN peacekeeping base at Kiwanja.

“According to several M23 soldiers, RDF troops provided the rebels with heavy weapons such as 12.7mm machine guns, 60mm, 91mm and 120mm mortars, as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft launchers ahead of the attack,” the report says.

“RDF special forces in Rutshuru also aided the rebels and fired 13 rounds on a FARDC combat helicopter during the takeover of Kiwanja.”

Ugandan military spokesman Felix Kulayigye rejected the report.

“Where’s the evidence for their claims? Some of those so-called experts came here and did not interview anyone,” he said. “Where’s their authentic facts to back those claims? Those accusations are absolute rubbish, hogwash.”

Olivier Nduhungirehe, a senior Rwandan diplomat at the country’s UN mission, made a similar denial, which he sent to Reuters on Sunday. He said the UN experts had been “allowed to pursue a political agenda that has nothing to do with getting at the true causes of conflict in the eastern DRC”.

The Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, reiterated Rwanda’s denials at a high-level meeting in New York last month that both he and the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila, attended.

The group of experts said multiple intelligence sources corroborated its findings.

“Various South African Development Community [SADC], European, Ugandan, and Burundian intelligence agents also confirmed the group’s findings concerning Rwandan violations of the [arms] embargo,” the report says.

It adds that the Rwandans have stepped up recruitment for M23, which has around 1,250 soldiers.

“M23 faces challenges in carrying out independent operations and controlling heavily guarded positions due to troop shortages,” says the report.

It says the Rwandan army has targeted Rwandan demobilised soldiers and civilians and Congolese refugees in recruiting for M23, while the rebels themselves have stepped up their use and recruitment of child soldiers. Since May, the experts say, M23 has recruited some 250 children and killed dozens who tried to escape.

“Furthermore, certain M23 commanders have ordered the extrajudicial executions of dozens of recruits and prisoners of war,” the report says.

“M23 uses boys on the frontlines as cover for advancing units, often after a week of training. Others act as porters, intelligence operatives and bodyguards. The rebels use young girls as cooks and as commanders’ wives.”

Source: guardian.co.uk

October 18, 2012   No Comments

Under fire over Congo rebels, Rwanda wins Security Council seat

By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau

(Reuters) – Rwanda – along with Australia and Argentina – won a seat on the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, despite accusations by a U.N. expert panel that the Rwandan defence minister is commanding a rebellion in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda was unopposed in its bid for the African seat on the council that South Africa will vacate at the end of December, but still needed approval from two-thirds of the U.N. General Assembly members present to secure the two-year term. It won 148 votes.

Argentina also was elected to the council unopposed, winning 182 votes in the 193-nation assembly. Australia won a seat as well with 140 votes. At least one further round of voting was taking place to decide the remaining two seats up for grabs.

Cambodia, Bhutan and South Korea are competing for one Asia-Pacific seat. With Australia’s victory secured, Finland and Luxembourg are up for the other remaining seat available in the “Western European and Others” group.

A confidential U.N. report, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, cast a shadow over Rwanda’s election to the 15-member U.N. powerhouse – which has the ability to impose sanctions and authorize military interventions.

There are five veto-holding permanent members of the council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – and 10 temporary members without vetoes. Thursday’s election was for the term from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014.

Before the vote, the Congo’s delegation told the General Assembly it objected to Rwanda joining the Security Council, accusing its neighbour of harbouring “war criminals operating in the eastern part of the DRC and who are being sought by international justice.”

The Security Council’s “Group of Experts” said that Rwanda and Uganda – despite their strong denials – continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops in the east of the country.

COUNCIL COMPLICATIONS

Rwandan U.N. diplomat Olivier Nduhungirehe said on Wednesday that Rwanda was not worried about the report’s impact on its Security Council bid.

“The members of the General Assembly know exactly what our record is and they cannot be deterred or swayed by a baseless report, which has no credibility,” Nduhungirehe said.

“We are the sixth (biggest) troop-contributing country for peacekeeping, we are a leading country in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we have a record in post-conflict reconstruction and peace building,” he said.

In addition to South Africa, four countries – Colombia, Germany, India and Portugal – are leaving the Security Council in December. Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Pakistan, Togo and Morocco will remain on the council until the end of 2013.

The last time Rwanda was on the council was in 1994-95. That coincided with a genocide in which 800,000 people were killed when Rwanda’s Hutu-led government and ethnic militias went on a 100-day killing spree, massacring Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

A senior Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity that he hoped Rwanda’s presence on the council would have a “positive effect” on the body’s handling of Congo, although he acknowledged it was possible the opposite would be the case.

He said getting unanimity among the 15 council members on Congo’s rebellion might be difficult with Rwanda in the room.

The Congolese government on Wednesday demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the U.N. experts report.

According to the U.N. experts, who monitor compliance with sanctions and an arms embargo on the Congo, Rwandan Defence Minister General James Kabarebe was ultimately commanding the rebellion and both Rwanda and Uganda were providing weapons, troops and military and political aid to the insurgency.

Source: Reuters.

October 18, 2012   No Comments

Rwanda is elected member of the United Nations Security Council

For UNSC, Rwanda Wins With 148, Australia 140, EU and Asian 2d Round

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — Rwanda, Australia and Argentina won UN Security Council seats in the first round of voting on Thursday morning in the UN General Assembly. Australia’s competitors Luxembourg and Finland face off in a second round, as do South Korea and Cambodia for a single Asian seat.
Despite a candidate-less campaign against Rwanda, complete with the leak of a UN Sanctions report two days before the vote accusing it of support of the M23 mutineers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda got 148 votes. Tellingly, DRC got a vote — its own? — and Tanzania got three votes. The rest was abstentions, some from SADC as Inner City Press reported.

Exiting the first round vote count announcement, an Asian Group Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that the biggest surprise was “South Korea’s low vote count, despite all that money.” He indicated his country would switch to Cambodia in the second round. But would it be enough? Bhutan got 20 votes — some dubbed it the Happiness vote.
Argentina won easily with 182 votes; Cuba and Barbados each drew a vote. Election required 129 votes, which Australia surpassed with 140. Luxembourg just missed with 128; Finland came in with 108. The latter two face off in the second round. Earlier this week, Finland’s Permanent Representative told Inner City Press his country had 165 “commitments.” Oh the betrayal! So it goes at the UN.

Source: innercitypress.com

October 18, 2012   2 Comments

Under fire over Congo rebels, Rwanda still eyes UN Security Council seat

* Rwanda says ‘baseless’ report won’t harm bid
* Race for Asia-Pacific seat too close to call

By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Rwanda appears likely to win one of five U.N. Security Council seats up for election on Thursday, despite accusations by a U.N. expert panel that the country’s defense minister is commanding a rebellion in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda is unopposed in its bid for the African seat on the Security Council, which is currently held by South Africa, but it still needs to be approved by two-thirds of the U.N. General Assembly members present to secure a two-year term.

U.N. diplomats said it was theoretically possible that Rwanda would fail to secure the necessary votes for election, although they said that was highly unlikely.

The confidential U.N. report, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, has cast a shadow over the East African country’s plan to join the 15-member U.N. powerhouse – which has the ability to impose sanctions and authorize military interventions.

There are five veto-holding permanent members of the council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – and 10 temporary members without vetoes. Thursday’s election is for the term from Jan. 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2014.

The Security Council’s “Group of Experts” said that Rwanda and Uganda – despite their strong denials – continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops in the east of the country.

Rwandan U.N. diplomat Olivier Nduhungirehe said Rwanda was not worried about the report harming its Security Council bid.

“The members of the General Assembly know exactly what our record is and they cannot be deterred or swayed by a baseless report, which has no credibility,” said Nduhungirehe.

“We are the sixth (biggest) troop-contributing country for peacekeeping, we are a leading country in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we have a record in post-conflict reconstruction and peace building,” he said.

Argentina is running unopposed for the Latin American and Caribbean states’ seat, but there is a three-way competition in both the Asia-Pacific group and the “Western European and Others” group.

Finland and Australia are expected by some diplomats to edge out Luxembourg for the two seats available in their group, but they said it could take several rounds of voting for those countries to reach the two-thirds’ majority needed.

They said Luxembourg might still surprise people and win a seat in the secret-ballot vote in the 193-member assembly.

South Korea, Bhutan and Cambodia are all competing for one Asia-Pacific seat. Envoys said that race was too close to call.

 ‘POSITIVE EFFECT’

The countries leaving the council in December are Colombia, Germany, India, South Africa and Portugal. The five current council members remaining until the end of 2013 are Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Pakistan, Togo and Morocco.

The last time Rwanda was on the council was in 1994-95. That coincided with the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were killed when the Hutu-led government and ethnic militias went on a 100-day killing spree, killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

A senior Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity that he hoped Rwanda’s presence on the council would have a “positive effect” on the body’s handling of Congo, although he acknowledged it was possible the opposite would be the case.

He said getting unanimity among the 15 council members on Congo’s rebellion might be difficult with Rwanda in the room.

The Congolese government on Wednesday demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the U.N. experts report.

According to the U.N. experts, who monitor compliance with sanctions and an arms embargo on the Congo, Rwandan Defense Minister General James Kabarebe was ultimately commanding the rebellion and both Rwanda and Uganda were providing weapons, troops and military and political aid to the insurgency.

Source: Reuters.

October 18, 2012   No Comments

Rwandan Supreme court dismisses Ingabire’s constitutional review case

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza – Chair of FDU-Inkingi

Finally, this Thursday 18 October 2012, 13:00, the Supreme Court of Rwanda dismissed the constitutional review case submitted by political prisoner Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza on grounds of lack of merits. The court panel stated that the genocide ideology laws are clear and there is no conflict with the constitutional freedoms of expression.
FDU-INKINGI Chair Madame Victoire Ingabire, 2012 Sakharov nominee, demanded the supreme court to exclude the law on genocide ideology because it is vague and is used to restrict freedom of expression. The large broad scope of expression that may be proscribed under this law fails to meet constitutional values and international laws.
Many voices have urged the Rwandan government to exclude many abstract and vague aspects of that law used as a political tool against opponents. For example On June 3, 2011, Amnesty International (AI) issued a report titled “Unsafe to Speak Out: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in Rwanda”, in which it criticizes the use of that country’s 2008 genocide ideology law and 2009 media law to stifle legitimate criticism and calls upon the Rwandan government to fast track the review process of these laws so that they are in line with Rwanda’s obligations under international law.
By rejecting the review, the supreme court , has paved the way to the High Court to sentence the political prisoner tomorrow on charges relating to forming an armed group with the aim of destabilising the country, complicity to acts of terrorism, conspiracy against the government by use of war and terrorism, inciting the masses to revolt against the government, genocide ideology and divisionism. The prosecutor has requested a life sentence.

FDU-Inkingi
Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President

October 18, 2012   No Comments