According to a U.N. report, Rwanda’s defense minister is commanding a rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that is being armed by Rwanda and Uganda, both of which sent troops to aid the insurgency in a deadly attack on U.N. peacekeepers.
The U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts said in a confidential report that Rwanda and Uganda – despite their strong denials – continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops in North Kivu province.
“Both Rwanda and Uganda have been supporting M23,” said the 44-page report, which was seen by Reuters on Tuesday. “While Rwandan officials coordinated the creation of the rebel movement as well as its major military operations, Uganda’s more subtle support to M23 allowed the rebel group’s political branch to operate from within Kampala and boost its external relations,” it said.
KINSHASA (Reuters) – The European Union has frozen further budgetary support to Rwanda over allegations that the Central African state supports anti-government rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, the EU’s ambassador to Congo said on Wednesday.
The EU is the latest western partner to impose aid suspensions against Kigali over an independent United Nations report that said Rwanda was behind a six-month rebellion in Congo’s eastern hills, which has forced 470,000 people to flee their homes.
“It was agreed to freeze the program of budgetary assistance and to not agree to any supplementary budgetary credit for Rwanda without them giving signs of co-operating,” Jean-Michel Dumond, the EU’s ambassador in Kinshasa, told the U.N.-backed broadcaster Radio Okapi.
Rwandan opposition parties in exile are to ask the international criminal court to press charges against the country’s president, Paul Kagame, after a UN report accused his regime of supporting rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Representatives of the United Democratic Forces party and the Rwandan National Congress will travel to The Hague on Friday to demand that the court examines claims that Kagame’s regime is recruiting and arming the rebels in an attempt to annex the DRC’s Kivu provinces. They also want an investigation into suggestions that Rwanda is stealing eastern Congo’s mineral resources.
In late July the head of the US war crimes office, Stephen Rapp, suggested that Kagame and other implicated Rwandan government figures could face prosecution at the ICC if M23 committed atrocities in the DRC. Rapp said Kagame could potentially face charges of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity in the DRC.
Rwandan and Congolese groups opposed to Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s rule asked the International Criminal Court on Friday to investigate him for war crimes for allegedly backing rebel groups in eastern Congo.
A small group gathered outside the court in The Hague, Netherlands, with banners reading “Kagame Assassin,” and “Freedom for Congo.”
The gesture is symbolic, as Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has not said whether she has any plans to investigate Kagame — though she is already probing members of the M23 rebel group in eastern Congo that formed this April with alleged ties to his regime across the border. Kagame denies involvement.
Christopher Block, a lawyer for the groups that want Kagame investigated, said Friday that Bensouda need only turn to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to launch a case against Kagame, asserting it has a “mountain” of evidence against him in its archives. Kagame has been an important military leader in Rwanda since 1990 and its president since 2000.
The Rwanda tribunal itself, based in Tanzania, never pressed any charges against Kagame.
A “visionary leader,” said Tony Blair; “one of the greatest leaders of our time,” echoed Bill Clinton. Such hero worship is usually reserved for South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. But Blair and Clinton were describing the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.
The UK and US have staked their pride, reputations and ability to judge character, not to mention hundreds of millions of pounds in aid, on Kagame’s powers of post-genocide healing and reconciliation matching those of Mandela after apartheid.
That is why the US decision to cut aid, and now to warn Kagame that he could even face criminal prosecution over meddling in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, is a humiliating but long overdue reversal.
The head of the US war crimes office has warned Rwanda’s leaders, including President Paul Kagame, that they could face prosecution at the international criminal court for arming groups responsible for atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Stephen Rapp, who leads the US Office of Global Criminal Justice, told the Guardian the Rwandan leadership may be open to charges of “aiding and abetting” crimes against humanity in a neighbouring country – actions similar to those for which the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was jailed for 50 years by an international court in May.
Rapp’s warning follows a damning United Nations report on recent Rwandan military support for M23, an insurgent group that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since April as it has seized territory in the eastern DRC.
The group is led by Bosco Ntaganda, known as the Terminator, who was indicted by the international criminal court six years ago for war crimes including the forced recruitment of child soldiers. The UN report accuses Rwanda of shielding Ntaganda from justice.
On Saturday, Washington said it would halt some military aid to Rwanda after the UN report.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has released a Rwandan rebel leader after judges ruled there was not enough evidence against him.
Callixte Mbarushimana, a Hutu rebel leader, had denied ordering his fighters to kill and rape civilians in 2009.
Mr Mbarushimana, a spokesman for the FDLR movement, is the first suspect brought to the court to be freed.
Earlier this month, the court said that “there was not sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds” to believe that he could be held criminally responsible.
A U.N. tribunal has reduced sentences for two former Rwandan military officials who were convicted of genocide during one of the court’s most significant verdicts.
The Tanzania-based court said Wednesday it overturned several convictions against former Rwandan Ministry of Defense director Col. Theoneste Bagosora. The court reduced his life sentence to 35 years. Bagosora had been sentenced in 2008 at the age of 67.
The court also reduced the life sentence of former military commander Anatole Nsengiyumva to 15 years and released him for time served.
The court did not reverse either man’s genocide conviction.
More than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and moderates from the Hutu majority were slaughtered during the 100-day genocide in 1994.
A Rwandan journalist living as a political refugee in Uganda has been shot dead, police say.
Charles Ingabire was gunned down in a bar in Kampala on Wednesday, but details are only now emerging. He was editor of Inyenyeri News, an online publication critical of the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Several critics of Mr Kagame have been attacked or killed in recent years. The government denies any responsibility.
Kagame will be traveling to Northern California this week to give a keynote speech on Thursday, November 3rd, at a conference on genocide at Sacramento State University.