4 August 2012

Uganda: Rwanda Bitter Over UN Report, Aid Cuts

Photo: Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets President Paul Kagame: Rwanda recently submitted a rebuttal to the UN Sanctions Committee on allegations that it is backing the M23 rebels in Congo-Kinshasa (file photo).

On July 21, the US - one of Rwanda's staunchest allies, announced the suspension of $200,000 in military aid to Rwanda. Although the amount of cash withheld is small, analysts said the move was intended to send a clear signal to Kigali.

A day later, the UK joined the fray and announced the suspension of $25m of the projected $118m annual aid package to Rwanda. On July 24, the Netherlands also announced the suspension of five million Euros in aid, with Germany quickly following suit with the suspension of 21 million Euros worth of assistance until 2015.

The actions of the donors followed an interim report by the UN Group of Experts on DR Congo, which accused Rwanda of backing M23 rebels in the eastern part of the vast country.

The Rwanda government, led by Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, has protested the move, saying any decision to suspend aid based on the UN report was "taken on evidence that does not exist." She suggested that the action of the donors was disrespectful to Rwanda.

"This child-to-parent relationship has to end ... there has to be a minimum respect," Mushikiwabo was quoted as telling a Kenyan business club in Nairobi.

"As long as countries wave cheque books over our heads, we can never be equal."

In an earlier written statement, she said the government had concluded discussions with the UN Group of Experts and "comprehensively rebutted every one of the allegations with conclusive documentary evidence."

"Once we share this with the development partners, we believe this will provide them the reassurance they seek in light of an orchestrated media and political campaign to blame Rwanda for this crisis," she added.

Reacting to the allegations in the UN report, President Paul Kagame encapsulated the frustration of a nation, which he said had become "a scapegoat" for all the DR Congo's ailments. While speaking at the inauguration of the staff college at Nyakinama on July 23, Kagame said his crime was refusing to be used by some "arrogant" foreign powers to apprehend some fighters in DRC and hand them over to the International Criminal Court.

He suggested that he gave them some advice, but they didn't listen and instead started blaming him for supporting the rebels when the situation started going out of control.

"We have not had a reason to have this conflict going, on the contrary we have been trying to prevent it and we advised both the Congolese Government and the International Community that never listens. We advised them," he said.

"They never listen even when they see facts, even when they see things happening because they have the power to blame the mess on someone else. They have the power to screw up and then blame it on someone else. This is what goes on every year, every decade."

UN maneuvers?

At the end of June, the UN Security Council through a unanimously adopted resolution, renewed the peace keeping mandate of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) until June 30, 2013. But analysts said the UN body secured that mandate through a maneuver that has injured the reputation of Rwanda, a country that is still struggling to overcome its own problems through national reconciliation and regional cooperation.

The UN justified the renewal of the MONUSCO mandate, saying the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu had witnessed increased fighting between Government troops and renegade fighters who mutinied in April and are now operating as an armed group under the name M23 and led by Bosco Ntaganda.

Just days before the renewal of the mandate, MONUC and its Group of Experts on DR Congo, had leaked an addendum to a new report to the international media; alleging that the Rwandan government had played a pivotal role in the creation of the M23, and then supplied it with weapons, ammunitions, and young Rwandan recruits.

MONUSCO could not explain how the leakage came about or what action picked on any official for sanctions. But given that independent international bodies had questioned the credibility of MONUSCO thus putting the renewal of its mandate at stake, questions are starting to emerge on the timing of the leaked report and the connection between accusations against Rwanda and the renewal of the MONUSCO mandate. MONUSCO has been variously described as a "failed mandate," though it costs the UN a whopping $1.2 billion per year.

"What are the possible motivations for MONUSCO to participate in an orchestrated pattern of leaking material detrimental to Rwanda to the international press?" asked Georgianne Nienaber, an investigative political analyst based in the US. She suggested that with the mandate of MONUSCO up for renewal every year at every end of June, the UN outfit was always keen to show the Security Council that it was still relevant - 13 years after it was first deployed as a peace keeping force.

"Blaming Rwanda takes the onus off MONUSCO and the Congolese army," she noted. "Many observers concur that MONUSCO has failed in its mandate and perhaps the orchestrated leaks worked, because by a unanimous vote, the MONUSCO mandate has been renewed until June 2013. Blaming Rwanda was a good political strategy."

Kigali has vehemently protested the "unethical" conduct of the UN Group of Experts.

Following the leakage of the damaging addendum, international news organizations have continued to throw more allegations and speculation, which have increasingly put the tiny country on the defensive. Rwanda was adamant that the leaked report was "a one-sided preliminary document based on partial findings and which is still subject to verification."

Mushikiwabo said the UN Group of Experts had accepted the invitation to Kigali to do what should have been done before - to get Kigali's side of the story. "We intend to provide factual evidence that the charges against Rwanda are false. These, as well as Rwanda's own allegations, will hopefully be reflected in the final UN report due in November," she said.

MONUSCO's credibility was questioned by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in a June 11 open letter to the Security Council, which urged the Council to "review the strategy in the DRC."

Rwanda's response to addendum by UN Group of Experts - 10 Key disproved factual elements

1. Claims of training at Kanombe absurd

It is common (and verifiable) knowledge that Kanombe is a garrison-type barracks that comprises living quarters; a referral military hospital also open to civilian patients; a cemetery; and five service support units' headquarters and related facilities. It wouldn't require any form of expertise to find out that this barracks cannot host the training of recruits or any other force preparation activity. A simple tour of Kanombe barracks would have led the GoE to easily discard this allegation wherever they got it from.

2. Claims about ammunition proving RDF involvement are just false

The GoE seriously suggests that it was able to establish, in about a week's time, that Col. Makenga's could not obtain 75mm canons and their ammunition from FARDC and concludes that these were instead provided by RDF.

b. As a matter of fact, RDF does not hold 75mm canons in ordinance stores and has never purchased such canons or their ammunition.

3. Key so-called facilitator of M23 movements was not in Gisenyi -- there is proof he was on leave during the time named by the GoE.

Brig Gen. Ruvusha denies all allegations. He states that he was on leave and out of Gisenyi from 3 - 14 May 12 and provides an incontrovertible evidence of his whereabouts during the period.

4. The so-called boat crossing was technically impossible

The alleged facilitation of M23 troops and equipment from Bukavu to Gisenyi is not only untrue but technically impossible (i) use RDF motorised zodiac boats to carry 60 personnel and tones of equipment back and forth at night without detection by FARDC border patrols; (ii) it is equally impossible to drive RDF 15 tonner trucks along the route reported by the GoEs. The alleged route is under major construction and there is no way it could support night movement involving heavy trucks.

5. Congolese businessmen alleged to have visited Rwanda to discuss M23 financing were not in Rwanda during the dates claimed:

Regarding allegations of mobilization meetings with Congolese businessmen, further verification with the Rwanda migration department indicates that the two businessmen mentioned in the addendum did not travel to Rwanda during the period mentioned in the addendum. Only Dieudonne Komayombi travelled through Rwanda to Nairobi between 24 and 28 of June 2012.

6. Claims about Jacques Nziza are incontrovertibly disproved

General Jacques Nziza, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence is alleged to be supervising all military, financial and logistic support as well as mobilization activities related to M23. It is stated that he has recently been deployed to Ruhengeri and Gisenyi to coordinate assistance and recruitment. Gen. Nziza dismisses these allegations as demonstrably false and nonsensical. As the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Defence, he is in charge of daily accounting. Deploying him away from his office to support M23 would amount to grounding most of the Ministry's core activities. General Nziza provides incontrovertible evidence that he has not been in Ruhengeri or Gisenyi of recent. As part of his statement, Gen. Nziza provides detailed documentary evidence covering his daily activities. The GoE is invited to review the annex and hopefully realise how important it would have been to carry out their own verifications rather than rely on undependable sources.

7. The response contains detailed information to rebut claims about the role of James Kabarebe and Charles Kayonga.

As mentioned in the summary of his statement, Gen. Kararebe and Gen. Charles Kayonga have played an active role in promoting peace in the region. That either individual was in contact with senior officials of the FARDC and or M23 will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the dynamics at play in the eastern DRC. A detailed account of their involvement in repeated attempts to avert the crisis is provided at Annex D and E respectively.

8. Jomba Gakumba was not redeployed to Ruhengeri as claimed

Lt Col Jomba Gakumba states that he was never deployed to Ruhengeri and remains an instructor at Gako Military in Bugesera. He provides incontrovertible evidence to support his statement, these include daily and weekly training activities in which he was involved, as well as details of all visits by foreign delegations he handled while at Gako.

9. Claims of radio intercepts "most unsophisticated pieces of fabrication in the entire report"

The GoE refers to the signal interception by FARDC of radio communications between RDF and M23. The so-called signal interception indicated the reception of RDF troop reinforcements by M23, and request for additional reinforcements. The evidence provided is one of the most unsophisticated pieces of fabrication in the entire report. The mode of communication indicated is a single frequency per channel also referred to as a 'direct mode operation'; (ii) encryption seems to be based on a manual cipher system also known as SLIDEX; (iii) the frequency is VHF (high) and the frequency range (159,500.00 KHz - 160,900.00 KHz - 161,000.00 KHz) indicates some equipment of commercial standard. Hence, it is technically incompatible with the RDF VHF communication system, which uses PRC family military standard with low VHF rage operating from 30 - 80/108 MHz, which means that a two-way communication would be impossible. Furthermore, RDF uses digital encryption imbedded in its communication assets, which confirms that a two way communication is not possible in this case. Additional details confirming that the intercepted radio communication cannot refer to a communication between an RDF communicator and that of M23 is available as Annex I to this submission.

10. Claims of Ntaganda-owned property are categorically false

The so-called evidence of a house pictured allegedly belonging to Ntaganda is demonstrably inaccurate. Investigations on the matter indicate that the house presented as image 15 in the addendum is owned by Mr. Innocent Ndagano alias "Cent Kilos." The certificate of registration of epithetic lease title No. UPI 3/03/04/05/217 is available at Annex J to this submission. It further alleged in the Addendum, that Hotel Bushokoro located at Kinigi is co-owned by Gen. Bosco Ntaganda. That property is actually owned at 50% each by Mr.Enock Munyajabo and his wife Nyiramana Kesie under the certificate of registration of epithetic lease title No. UPI 4/03/07/03/329 (Annex K to this submission).

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