Rwanda, accused by United Nations experts of backing a rebellion in neighboring eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, urged the international community to ignore those findings and back efforts to resolve the crisis.
The so-called UN Group of Experts released a report on Nov. 21 that said Rwanda is violating an arms embargo and providing direct military support to the M23 rebel group in Congo. The panel also accuses Uganda of backing the renegade fighters. Both governments have denied the allegations.
“Rwanda is neither the cause nor a complicating factor of the problems in the DRC but part of the solution,” Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a statement on the ministry’s website. An agreement reached by the leaders of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda in Kampala on Nov. 21 “represents the most effective way to end the conflict and bring about peace and progress in the DRC,” she said, without elaborating on what the pact entails.
M23 rebels captured Goma, capital of Congo’s resource-rich North Kivu province, on Nov. 20 after ending an unofficial three-month cease-fire. The renegade group is made up of soldiers that mutinied in April and is headed by General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. The fighters yesterday clashed with the army and pro-government militia in Sake, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of Goma, and in Minova, on the border with South Kivu province.
The Kivu provinces are one of the world’s richest sources of columbite-tantalite, the mineral known as coltan that’s used in mobile phones and computers, according to Eurasia Group, the New York-based risk consultancy. The Central African nation is also the continent’s biggest producer of tin ore, most of which is mined in the Kivus. Banro Corp., based in Toronto, operates the Twingiza gold mine about 200 kilometers south of Goma.
Congo yesterday suspended the head of the army’s ground forces, General Gabriel Amisi, after he was accused by the UN Group of Experts of trafficking ammunition.