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US Sees No Evidence of Rwanda Involvement in DRC Rebel Insurgency


The United States says it has no evidence that Kigali supports rebels loyal to renegade Army general Laurent Nkunda in their insurgency in the Democratic Republic of Congo. US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said there is no evidence to support claims by President Joseph Kabila's government that Rwanda is supporting the rebel National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) loyal to Laurent Nkunda. But Kinshasa maintains that it stands by its claim that Kigali is backing the rebels. The rebels' tightened their grip on towns they recently wrested from the national army over the weekend as the internally displaced persons affected by the rebel clashes with the government began returning to their villages. Meanwhile, United Nations peacekeepers are expected in the rebel stronghold Monday to help those displaced by the fighting.

Jack Kahora covers the DRC for the Voice of America. From the capital, Kinshasa, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that diplomats are investigating the prevailing humanitarian situation on the ground.

"The latest development on the ground is the visit of diplomats and some other delegations from different countries, especially, European countries, as well as the United States. But as talking about the situation on the ground, the rebels are still outside Goma town and anytime, they may attack the town. They (rebels) decided not to enter the town for fear that they would be accused of committing atrocities which have been committed over the last couple of days. Meanwhile, there are thousands of IDPs in and around the towns, so there is a real confusion going on there in the region at the moment," Kahora pointed out.

He said Kinshasa stands by its accusation that Rwandan forces are supporting rebels loyal to renegade army general Laurent Nkunda.

"Yes, they have already started this because there are some delegates who are coming, and the DRC is trying to show that in fact the conflict which is prevailing in the region is as a result of the involvement of Rwanda. But the evidence that the government presented has not been accepted by the international community," he said.

Kahora said there is speculation that the United Nations mission in the DRC is not being neutral.

"According to some people the evidence presented by the government was not accepted because we knew that the evidence itself would be presented by the UN troops, which is the MONUC, but unfortunately it is difficult to present it this way since Rwanda as well as everybody know that the UN mission supports the government of DRC and is part of the conflict. So, there is no way this could be prevented by such an organization," Kahora noted.

He said the internally displaced people adversely affected by the clashes between the government and the rebels are facing grim humanitarian challenges.

"What I can tell you is that since the last violence, the IDPs moved from their camps where they were settled and then some villagers also moved from where they are to Goma (the North Kivu capital), unfortunately they could not have access to water, to food and to shelter, nothing at all," he said.

Kahora said various humanitarian groups are planning to visit the internally displaced to help with the situation.

"The humanitarian organizations are planning a trip to Rutshuru so that they can see how they can assess the situation and help," Kahora pointed out.

He said some of the displaced persons are threatening to join the rebel forces.

"They say they have no choice to stay on the government side. They are dying, and to the rebels they may also die, but they prefer to die at home rather than in villages or towns they don't really know. In fact they are experiencing frustration because since they arrived on the government's side nobody is taking care of them. They seem to be on their own," he said.

Frazer said that her recent meeting with Rwanda President Kagame was extremely positive, adding that she had a chance to talk about the regional implications of the humanitarian crisis in Eastern DRC. She also said that she discussed with Kagame how to address the issue of the Democratic for Forces the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels. She adds that it was important that CNDP and the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) stop fighting, noting that the most important thing is for the ceasefire to hold.

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