25 January 2014

Rwanda Raps UN Experts On New M23 Claims

A Rwandan diplomat has dismissed allegations contained in a yet to be released report of the United Nations Group of Experts that Rwanda is helping defeated Congolese rebel group M23 to regroup.

Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said on Thursday that the allegations contained in the report were "recycled and unacceptable rumours without evidence."

"The M23 were militarily defeated and now the Group of Experts has thrown new accusations against Rwanda saying that the M23 is recruiting in Rwanda but they didn't provide any basic evidence, they didn't say who was recruiting, where they were recruiting, they didn't even consult Rwanda. How can you make so serious accusations against a country without seeking its opinion?" he asked.

The diplomat was speaking to the media shortly after holding consultations with the UN Security Council committee on DR Congo sanctions during which he urged the committee not to adopt the Group of Experts' report.

He said there were violations of procedures in both the content of the report and in the process to submit it to the UNSC.

But Nduhungirehe finds a bigger issue in the content of the report even if he also complains that its submission to the Security Council was rushed without being approved by the Sanctions Committee of the Council.

"On the content, it's a long story; flawed methodology, lack of sources, it's difficult to take," he said, accusing members of the Group of Experts of yet again "recycling rumours" from the past that Rwanda supports M23.

"They keep accusing Rwanda to stay relevant and we find that very unfortunate," he said.

After nearly two years since it was created in eastern DR Congo, the M23 rebellion was last year defeated by the Congolese army backed by an intervention brigade of the UN's stabilisation mission in DR Congo (Monusco).

But the Group of Experts' final report for 2013, which is being pushed for the UN's adoption and publication amidst Rwanda's protest, charges that Kigali allows M23 to recruit from inside its borders in violation of a deal signed with Kinshasa.

Nduhungirehe said Rwanda, which is commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, was not prepared to accept the continuous "punching exercise" by the Group of Experts.

"There is need to review the appointment of members of the panel of the Group of Experts," the diplomat said.

Monusco under pressure

Meanwhile, analysts say new allegations that Rwanda is helping the M23 to regroup could be designed to deflect attention from Monusco's failure to confront FDLR rebels after the defeat of M23.

Among its grievances, the M23 claimed the fight against the FDLR among its obligations because it was accusing the Congolese government army (FARDC) of failing to protect civilians in eastern DR Congo against attacks from the FDLR and other militias.

A number of declarations last week were sent Monusco's way, urging the body to intensify attacks against the FDLR, a group mostly made up of those largely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Fresh calls for the UN mission to dismantle FDLR include one of the resolutions of the fifth Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), in Luanda, Angola, last week.

ICGLR leaders cited the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Uganda's Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) among negative forces that need to be uprooted from their hideouts in eastern DR Congo, and called on Monusco to intensify its operations against them.

Another call to dismantle FDLR was made last week by Russ Feingold, the US special envoy to the Great Lakes region.

"It is essential that Monusco, in accordance with its mission, steps up efforts to honour its commitment to conduct operations in support of fighting against the FDLR," Feingold said.

The head of Monusco, Martin Kobler, last week said the mission would finalise the review of its military deployment across eastern Dr Congo in a few weeks.

"We will then have a more flexible force. We need it to be more agile, ready to deploy when it is needed and where civilians are threatened, to take on the threat," Kobler, who is also special representative of the UN Secretary-General in DR Congo, said in a briefing to the Security Council.

Meanwhile, FDLR was this week blamed for the death of a game ranger in DR Congo.

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