Donors must hold Rwanda to account over DRC rebels: group

29th June 2012, Comments 0 comments

Donors must hold the Rwandan government to account for its alleged support of armed groups in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, campaign group Global Witness said Friday.

"Rwanda's two main donors, the United Kingdom and United States, must use their influence to end Kigali's support of armed groups operating in the DRC," the London-based group said in a statement.

Kigali has denied accusations it has been helping a mutiny in eastern DR Congo by former Congolese Tutsi rebels known as M23, who had been integrated into the army but defected this year.

The rebel's most high-ranking commander is Bosco Ntaganda, a warlord wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

The UN released a report on Tuesday whose annex, as yet unpublished but a copy of which was obtained by AFP, said senior Rwandan Defence Forces officers "in their official capacities, have been backstopping the rebels through providing weapons, military supplies and new recruits".

"The UK and US governments are the two largest bilateral donors to Rwanda, committing over $350 million (280 million euros) of tax-payers' money to the country in 2011. This gives them significant influence and in cases like this they have a responsibility to use it," said Sophia Pickles from Global Witness.

"They cannot stand by and watch a regime they bankroll orchestrating a new war in Congo. The lives of thousands of Congolese civilians, as well as the stability of the region, are on the line," she added.

Global Witness said donors have "long shown a reluctance to challenge Kigali over its predatory role in the DRC."

Rwanda twice sent troops into DR Congo to hunt down Rwandan Hutu rebels. Kigali has also been accused of exploiting DRC's mineral wealth. Since withdrawing its troops Kigali has backed various proxy groups in DRC.

"One of the most disturbing aspects of the UN report annex findings is how the M23 insurgency enjoys direct support from senior levels of the Rwandan government," Global Witness said.

Officials named in the addendum include Rwandan Defence Minister James Kabarebe and Chief of Defence Staff Charles Kayonga.

The annex details how Kabarebe, Kayonga and others breached international sanctions by providing sustained political and military support to the rebels.

© 2012 AFP

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