Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Kigali threatened to withdraw from UN peace keeping missions if the report is released or leaked to the media

Rwandan Foreign Minister
From Newsline
In the MDGs meeting in Madrid, Kagame asked Ban-Ki Moon to help ‘kill’ the report

Kigali threatened to withdraw from UN peace keeping missions if the report is released or leaked to the media.
As the Rwanda Government heightens its defensive efforts against a damning UN report accusing Rwanda of orchestrating genocide and war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, emerging information indicates Kigali has been playing behind-the-scenes diplomacy to have the report buried in the UN Archives.

The Newsline can reliably report that when President Paul Kagame met the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon in Madrid, Spain, during the MDG meeting last month, he asked Moon to help ensure the embarrassing report is dismissed.

According to available information, before the Madrid meeting the Rwandan Government had also asked the UN Office of Human Rights not to release the report it says is ‘fatally flawed’, but that when the plea was rejected the Government forwarded the appeal to the world governing body Secretary General.

Further, in what is seen as attempted blackmail, Kigali also threatened to withdraw from UN engagements, particularly UN peace keeping missions ‘if the report is released or leaked to the media’.

The Corps of Hutu Refugees in DRC
The report is so embarrassing to the Rwandan Government, to the extent that the verbal request was not enough. So, after the Madrid meeting, Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo officially wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General, a copy of which the Newsline is in possession of, further seeking his help in neutralizing the report.

In the letter to the UN SG dated August 05, 2010, Ref No: 0482/09.01/Cab.Min/2010, Re: ‘DRC Mapping Exercise - Mapping of the Most Serious Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Violations Committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993and 2003’, Mushikiwabo, who thanks Moon for taking time to meet with President Kagame and herself during the MDG meeting in Madrid. Wote in part:

‘At that time, we shared with you our deep concern about a report, entitled DRC Mapping Exercise … that the 0ffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has circulated for comment. Having examined the report in detail, we believe it is not only fatally flawed but an embarrassment to the United Nations, an organization which, under your leadership, strives for honesty, integrity and transparency.  The report's allegations- of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity - are extremely serious. However, the methodology, sourcing and standard of proof used to arrive at them most certainly are not’. The letter says the report contained innumerable errors and omissions.

Mushikiwabo says it is patently absurd for the UN, which deliberately turned its back on the Rwandan people during the 1994 genocide, to turn around and accuse the army that stopped the genocide, of committing atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fire spitting Minister adds: “The fact that these allegations are the result of apocryphal and one-sided reporting only adds insult to injury.”

Further trying to justify why the report should be dismissed, Mushikiwabo ‘noted’ that the Great Lakes Region is making remarkable progress in establishing peace, security and economic collaboration ‘thus the appearance of this report can only be regarded as a cynical and dangerous attempt to destroy these hard won gains’.

‘We, therefore, ask that you help ensure that DRC Mapping Exercise is dismissed’, she pleaded with the SG.

And, as a counter accusation and form of blackmail, the Rwandan Government reminds the UN of its alleged crimes in the Eastern DRC.

“If the UN needs proof of war crimes in Congo, it need look no further than its own Peacekeepers (M ONUC) who, as you may recall, have (1) engaged in sexual slavery, sexual assault and sex trafficking; (2) traded food for sex; (3) forced sex on civilians, and (4) dabbled in child prostitution and child pornography. Such acts on the part of MONUC are defined as war crimes under Article 8(e) (vi) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” Mushikiwabo reminds Ban Ki Moon in the letter.

Foreign affairs Minister also reminded Ban-Ki Moon that Rwanda remains committed to disengage itself from any UN engagements, if the requested is rejected.
‘We reiterate here what we have already told the High Commissioner; namely that attempts to take action on this report - either through its release or leaks to the media - will force us to withdraw from Rwanda's various commitments to the United Nations, especially in the area of peacekeeping,’ concludes the Minister’s letter that was also copied to the Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Switzerland.

Now that the report has made it to newspaper pages all over the world, what remains to be seen is if Kagame will recall his forces from Darfur, Liberia and Haiti, but much more, whether indictments against Rwanda will follow.
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