Rwanda has once again strongly denied the allegations contained in a report compiled by the United Nations’ Group of Experts, which claims Kigali was supporting a rebel faction, M23 that is responsible for the worst outbreak of fighting in eastern Congo for several years.
The UN group of experts report accused Rwandan officials of violating a UN arms embargo by supplying weapons, ammunition and fighters to a group called M23, a mainly Tutsi group seeking control of large parts of Eastern Congo.
The war between the Congolese army and M23 has forced thousands to flee their homes in the past two weeks, adding to some 260,000 people already displaced since April.
But in a written response issued at a Press Conference in Dar es Salaam on Friday, Rwanda listed what it called, ‘10 key disproved factual elements’ contained in the report by the Group of Experts—calling the allegations mere propaganda.
Rwanda’s move comes amid fresh revelations that the coordinator of the Group of Experts was a sympathiser of Interahamwe militias, who authored various reports a few years ago in support of the Rwandese rebels.
Steve Hege—the coordinator of the UN’s Group of Experts, has, for long sympathised and advocated for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).The FDLR, a militia group based in the DRC, comprises elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis that left more than one million people dead.(Read a separate story on page 10)
The move by Rwanda also comes at a time when Africa is carefully and thoroughly scrutinizing the report, which has also named other countries like Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania of fuelling the instability in the war-ravaged DRC.
Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Tanzania Dr Ben Rugangazi said the contents of the report, which has been widely reported by the Western media, lacks credibility because most of the evidence cited were fabricated or unreliable.
The High Commissioner said while the group of experts revealed that Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) provided two-week training to the rebels in Kanombe barracks in Kigali, the case was not true as the cited venue was a garrison-type barracks that could not host the training of recruits or any other forces.
“Kanombe comprises a living quarter, a referral military hospital also open to civilian patients, a cemetery and five service support units’ headquarters and related facilities. This site, the way it is, cannot support military training,” said Commissioner Rugangazi.
According to the High Commissioner, the Rwanda immigration department also refuted allegations claiming that two Congolese businessmen moved to Rwanda to conduct fundraising events to raise money in support of M23, the rebel group operating inside DR Congo.
Commissioner Rugangazi spoke about ammunitions that proved RDF involvement, saying the claims were outright false as RDF did not possess 75mm cannons in their stores and has never purchased such weapons or their ammunitions.
He said remnants of such weapons and ammunitions from the 1990-94 war were disposed off in 2008 and was well documented by the RDF ordinance regiment.
He further noted that Brig. Gen. Ruvusha also denied all allegations that branded him as a key facilitator of M23 movement. He said General Ruvusha was not in Gisenyi at the time when he was named by the group of experts. He was on leave and out of Gisenyi from May3-14, 2012.
He added that the allegation over the facilitation of M23 troops and equipment from Bukavu to Gisenyi were also not valid as it was technically impossible to drive RDF 15 tons trucks along the route as reported by the group of experts as the route is under major construction.
“Also claims of rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda owning a house were entirely false as the house presented was picture of the house taken by the group of experts was owned by a resident called Innocent Ndagano, alias “Cent Kilos” with title C Lease title No. UPI3/03/04/05/217”
About the Hotel Bushokoro at Kinigi, Dr Rugangazi said it is owned at 50 per cent each by Enock Munyajabo and his wife Nyiramana Kesie with certificate of registration of epithetic lease title No. UPI 4/03/07/03/329, he said, refuting reports that the property belongs to Gen. Bosco Ntaganda as reported by GoE.
He said that Jomba Gakumba was not redeployed to Ruhengeri, that since the creation of M23 he was allegedly put in charge of commanding local military operations in support of M23. Col Gakumba states that he was never deployed to Ruhengeri and remains an instructor at Gako military in Busegera, the commissioner noted.
“General Jacques Nziza, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defence is alleged to supervise all military, financial and logistic support as well as mobilization activities related to M23 and deployed to Ruhengeri and Gisenyi to coordinate assistance and recruitment. This is not true,” he said.
Gen. Nziza dismissed the allegations as false and provided evidence that he has not been in Ruhengeri or Gisenyi of recent, showing his daily activities as limited to his work as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.
“Claims of radio intercepts were most unsophisticated pieces of fabrication, in the entire report technically impossible, as Gen. James Kabarebe and Gen. Charles Kayonga have played an active role in promoting peace in the region,” the commissioner insisted.
The two generals have not been supporting M23, he stated, blaming the western media as the genesis of supplying the false information to people and were affecting Rwanda negatively.
“Some of aid that was to be given to Rwanda has been suspended, like the US suspended military aid of 200million dollars but we believe this will be provided once they see the facts of the matter,” the commissioner intoned.
The Rwanda Minister of Foreign Affairs on Monday presented the response to the Group of Experts report to the UN Security Council. The GoE report was drawn up without Rwandese views and administrative involvement, the minister added.