UN experts: `Substantial evidence’ of Rwanda forces in Congo

Dec 22, 2022, 11:25 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2022, 1:33 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts say they found “substantial evidence” of Rwandan government forces crossing into neighboring eastern Congo, either to reinforce M23 rebels or to conduct military operations against another rebel group that includes fighters accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

According to excerpts from the latest report from the panel of experts obtained Friday by The Associated Press, weapons, ammunition and uniforms were also provided to the M23 rebels. The group resurfaced more than a year ago and has been accused of killing civilians and seizing land in eastern Congo’s Rutshuru territory.

The panel said it also found “substantial evidence” of support given to several Congolese armed groups by members of Congo’s military, known as the FARDC, in Rutshuru. It said there is “cooperation between FARDC units and Congolese armed groups in Rutshuru territory.”

At the root of the current crisis between Rwanda and Congo is the 1994 genocide.

The carnage began when a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down, killing the leader, who like most Rwandans was an ethnic Hutu.

The country’s minority Tutsis were blamed, and although they denied it, bands of Hutu extremists began killing them, including children, with support from Rwanda’s army, police and militias.

The genocide killed more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus who tried to protect them. Thousands of Hutus fled to neighboring eastern Congo.

Rwanda’s current president, Paul Kagame, a Tutsi and former opposition military commander, is widely credited with stopping the genocide, but he has become a polarizing figure in recent years, accused of leading an authoritarian government that crushes all dissent.

The M23 rebels are largely Congolese ethnic Tutsis who became prominent 10 years ago when their fighters seized Goma, eastern Congo’s largest city on the border with Rwanda. The group derives its name from a March 23, 2009, peace deal, which it accuses the Congo government of not implementing.

The FDLR movement, also mentioned by the panel of experts, is a Hutu rebel group opposed to Tutsi influence that reportedly includes Hutus who participated in Rwanda’s genocide.

Renewed attacks by M23 rebels have angered Congo’s government and led to talk of war in eastern Congo, a volatile region rich in minerals critical to much of the world’s technology. This month, the United Nations accused the rebels of massacring more than 130 civilians in two villages.

Early this week, France and Germany joined international pressure on Rwanda, openly accusing the country of supporting rebels in eastern Congo, which could have repercussions for foreign aid that Rwanda has long enjoyed.

The Rwandan government issued a statement Wednesday calling accusations that it is supporting M23 “wrong” and part of a “tired old blame game” undermining efforts by regional leaders to find a lasting peace, “to which Rwanda is fully committed.”

It accused Congo’s government of failing to deal with “the over 130 armed groups on its territory” and hold accountable Congolese soldiers for serious abuses against civilians and “the genocidal remnant militia FDLR, which has been preserved for decades” in the country.

The statement cites cross-border attacks into Rwanda by Congolese troops and the FDLR, says Rwanda hosts over 800,000 Congolese refugees in camps, many for over 20 years, and accuses the U.N. peacekeeping mission that has been in eastern Congo for more than 22 years and costs over $1 billion a year of achieving “little tangible results.”

M23 rebels retreated Friday from some territory they had seized in eastern Congo, a welcome first withdrawal, but regional experts said it is a fraction of the territory they control. The M23 positions in Kibumba, in North Kivu, were taken over by the new East African Regional Force given the job of protecting the area.

Lawrence Kanyuka, M23´s political spokesman, said in a statement the retreat was in line with an agreement made last month at a summit in Angola.

At the Nov. 23 summit, which included Congo’s president and Rwanda’s foreign minister, leaders called for a cease-fire in eastern Congo to be followed by a withdrawal of rebels from major towns under M23 control — Bunagana, Rutshuru and Kiwanja.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

2 Indiana officers shot, suspect dead after gunfire exchange

MITCHELL, Ind. (AP) — Two southern Indiana law enforcement officers were shot and wounded early Sunday during an exchange of gunfire with a suspect who fled a traffic stop on foot and fired at the officers before he was fatally shot, police said. Both officers flown to a hospital in Indianapolis, where they are were […]
1 day ago
Marcos Marzo, second left, poses for a photo with his friends who came to say goodbye upon receivin...
Associated Press

Cubans respond with zeal to new US migration policy

HAVANA (AP) — In barely a week, 25-year-old engineer Marcos Marzo went from riding his small electric motorcycle past the low buildings of Havana’s Vedado district to traveling the mega-highways of Florida, amazed by the towering high-rises and giant supermarkets. A close relative told Marzo on Jan. 21 that he had applied online to sponsor […]
1 day ago
/// State Sen. Clarence Lam, a Maryland Democrat who is a physician at Johns Hopkins, speaks during...
Associated Press

As many as 80K Marylanders could lose Medicaid eligibility

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials are preparing for as many as 80,000 residents who could no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage this spring, as the federal government reinstates a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify the eligibility of recipients. Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

2 abducted Missouri children found in a Florida supermarket

HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — Two abducted children who had been missing from Missouri for almost a year were found in a central Florida grocery store with their non-custodial mother, who was taken into police custody, authorities said. Kristi Gilley was arrested last Wednesday on an out-of-state fugitive warrant. Court records show Gilley, 36, remained […]
1 day ago
Alex Murdaugh, right, leans over to talk with his attorney Jim Griffin in his double murder trial a...
Associated Press

How the cases in Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial are shaping up

Two weeks into the double murder trial of South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, prosecutors haven’t presented any direct evidence that he killed his wife and son at their home in June 2021. There is no confession, no surveillance camera footage, no recording of the victims’ final moments. If found guilty of murdering his wife, Maggie, […]
1 day ago
People protest against the exclusion of some animals in the new animal protection law, Madrid, Spai...
Associated Press

Spain: Rights groups urge more protection for hunting dogs

MADRID (AP) — Animal rights groups and pet shop owners marched Sunday in separate demonstrations to protest a new animal welfare law proposed by the Spanish government that seeks to advance the protection of animal rights. The draft legislation has fueled criticism by animal rights groups after a last-minute amendment excluded hunting dogs from the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
UN experts: `Substantial evidence’ of Rwanda forces in Congo