3 December 2012

Congo-Kinshasa: UN Report On Congo Lacking - Frazer

The UK is withholding a U.S.$34 million aid payment to Rwanda over allegations it's behind the current violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. ( Resource: UK Withholds Aid Payment to Rwanda )

Former United States Under-Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, has questioned the credibility of a report by a group of UN experts accusing Rwanda and Uganda of backing a rebellion in DRC.

Appearing on Al Jazeera Television on Sunday, Frazer said that the report lacked substantial evidence and pointed at what she called "a cloud of anonymity about the experts on the panel."

"I don't even know who these experts are...there is this cloud of anonymity about who these experts are and what agenda they are pushing," said Frazer, who was the US top diplomat on Africa under former President George W. Bush.

The report, which was repeatedly leaked to the western media before the official publication of its final version, late last month, formed the basis for the British government's decision to freeze 21 million pounds (about Rwf21 billion) in aid to Rwanda, last week.

Frazer, now a distinguished service professor at Carnegie Mellon University, advised the donor community against withholding financial support to Rwanda based on the report, instead urging them to support the efforts by the 12-nation member International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), to help end endemic conflicts that have dogged DRC for decades.

"Instead of focusing on what the solution is and backing regional initiatives, we spend time accusing one country, one government or one person and this doesn't help," she said.

She added, "The US State Department needs to spend its time supporting the initiative by the regional leaders under the ICGLR."

"We (the United States) have done very little for most people in that region and the majority of it is unhealthy. You want us to stop providing (even the little) assistance to the population of Rwanda addressing AIDS, women mortality from childbirth; is that the prescription for solving the crisis in Congo?" she questioned the journalist.

Rwanda has denied it provides any help to the M23 rebels who, a week ago, overran the strategic eastern towns of Sake and Goma before pulling out of both on Saturday under the ICGLR peace process.

The rebel withdrawal was part of a compromise deal which also requires President Joseph Kabila's government to "listen, evaluate and resolve" the M23 grievances.

The former top US diplomat criticised the media for creating the impression that Rwanda received 'hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the US".

"US doesn't fund Rwanda to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, which is the problem of the nature of reporting, these broad generalisations that are repeated over and over again, not based on fact trying to push policy..."

The UN report was compiled by a group led by Steve Hege, a man known for his unapologetic advocacy for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a militia group made up of and financed by key elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The FDLR, a blacklisted terrorist organisation, yesterday, launched an attack in Musanze District, killing a game ranger, following another attack early on two villages in Rubavu District last week in which one civilian died and three others injured.

Frazer is the latest senior international figure who has openly criticised the report and countries that base on its findings to reprimand Rwanda.

Like Frazer, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said "the proper thing is to sort out that issue (Congo crisis) through the ICGLR and the international community, and to continue to support the progress of Rwanda in the lives of the people," the statement released by the Blair Office reads in part.

Rwanda is widely regarded was one of the most effective users of aid in the world.

Equally, Dr Phil Clark, a British researcher and lecturer at SOAS, University of London, questioned the methodology used in gathering testimonies that informed conclusion that Rwanda was backing the M23 rebels.

"In the case of the June 2012 (draft) report, apparent methodological and substantive problems suggest that international donors should have treated the GoE's (Group of Experts') analysis with much greater caution," Dr Clark said.

He warns the donor community against taking policy decisions on the basis of the group's allegations, which have strongly been refuted by Kigali and Kampala.

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