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Rwanda Issues Rebuttal to UN Over M23 Report

  • Gabe Joselow

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo (file)

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo (file)

NAIROBI — Rwanda has issued a response to a U.N. Group of Experts report linking Kigali to a rebellion in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Speaking at a forum in Nairobi Saturday, Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the case against Rwanda is superficial, and her country questions the report's standards of proof.

Mushikiwabo says her country submitted a counter-argument to the U.N. Security Council Friday in response to the report accusing Rwanda of supporting the M23 mutiny in DRC.

“We have had three days of discussions with the Group of Experts," she said. "We went through every single allegation. Every single one of them. We have given our explanation, we have provided supporting documents to a number of false allegations, what they do with it, we don't know.”

Mushikawabo admitted she did not think the report would necessarily change the minds of the Group of Experts, but said it was important for Rwanda to address these issues.

The experts' report, submitted to the Security Council in June, documents evidence that Rwanda has been providing weapons and recruiting fighters for M23, a group of former soldiers who defected from the Congolese army in April.

Mushikiwabo said Rwanda has challenged the evidence in the Group of Experts report, including photographs of supposed M23 soldiers wearing Rwandan Army uniforms.

"First of all, is this uniform genuinely a uniform of the Rwandan army? Secondly, I can get you a Rwandan uniform in a market in Nairobi now, if you want," she said. "So it's the standard of proof that we questioned.”

The Group of Experts report also documents phone calls between Rwandan military officials and members of M23. Mushikiwabo said those calls took place before the mutiny and were intended to convince the soldiers not to defect.

Some of Rwanda's biggest donors have withdrawn support from the country in light of the U.N. report.

The United States has suspended $200,000 in military aid, while Britain and the Netherlands are also withholding budget support.

An African Development Bank official denied reports that a delay in granting a loan to Rwanda has anything to do with the report.

The bank's East Africa regional director, Gabriel Negatu, told VOA the one-week delay is due to internal procedural matters.