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More bad news from Congo, UN MUNOC forces under growing pressure

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Jul 18, 2008

eTN has in past months repeatedly mentioned the seemingly dubious role the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mission des Nations Unies en République Démocratique du Congo (UN’s MONUC) force plays in Eastern Congo.

More often than not MONUC was seen to be in league, covertly and overtly, with the genocide Hutu militias camped in Congo’s near lawless East, while pursuing with vigor the Tutsi self protection groups aimed at preventing another genocide from ever taking place again. More allegations have now surfaced in Kigali from former members of those militias during a formal “repatriation ceremony” held in their honor for coming out from the bush and rejoining the “new Rwanda.”

They alleged that MONUC troops and officers were involved in selling captured and surrendered weapons back to their militias almost immediately after taking control of the arms caches. They also alleged that while planning and preparing their attacks they often sold gold and coltan to MONUC troops in exchange for ammunition and weapons.

In an even more revealing allegation, they accused a senior Senegalese MONUC officer to have prevented them from an earlier return home under the threat of death, as the killer militias entrenched themselves further in North and South Kivu provinces to control the mineral wealth and explorations, from which they finance their terrorist activities.

The allegations come hot on the heels of a BBC investigative report some weeks ago, which raised the alarm levels at the UN head quarters in New York and the regional MONUC command, which broadly rejected all allegations made in the BBC’s report. However, as ever more evidence is offered it will become increasingly untenable for the UN to maintain the present format of MONUC and major changes in policy, command and troops may have to be considered by the world body if they do not want to loose the last of their credibility in the Great Lakes region.

Meanwhile, Rwanda has also initiated legislation to govern and protect genocide burial sites and monuments, which would make it a more severe criminal offense to damage such sites than is presently the case. In severe cases, life sentences can be passed while lesser offences still attract jail terms between 10 and 20 years. The new bill is a strong commitment by the Rwanda government towards honoring the more than three quarters of a million victims of the hardline Hutu aggression in 1994, and for those who lost their lives in the earlier genocides in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, and that they will not tolerate anybody messing with the memorials and monuments at any cost.

More bad news from Congo, UN MUNOC forces under growing pressure
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