Rwanda threatens to quit UN missions

RWANDA has threatened to withdraw its troops from United Nations peacekeeping operations if the world body publishes a report accusing the Rwandan army of committing possible genocide in Congo in the 1990s, Rwanda’s foreign minister says in a letter sent to the UN.

Addressed to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, the letter from Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo describes the report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as “fatally flawed” and “incredibly irresponsible.” The letter is dated August 3 and was obtained by the Associated Press at the weekend.

A draft of the report leaked this week accuses Rwandan troops and rebel allies tied to the current Congolese president of slaughtering tens of thousands of Hutus in Congo.

The attacks allegedly came two years after those same troops stopped Rwanda’s 1994 genocide that killed more than half a million Tutsis and some moderate Hutus.

“The report’s allegations – of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – are extremely serious. However, the methodology, sourcing and standard of proof used to arrive at them most certainly are not,” Mushikiwabo’s letter says.

The letter asks why the investigators spent six weeks in Congo but never came to Rwanda or asked for meetings with Rwandan officials, who were given the 545-page draft two months ago.

Investigators say they required two independent sources for each of the 600 incidents documented.

The draft says the systematic and widespread attacks “could be classified as crimes of genocide” by a competent court.

In the letter, Mushikiwabo criticises investigators for not seeking evidence that would stand up in court. She says the report’s weakness is that its goal was “not of being satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that a violation was committed but rather having reasonable suspicion that the incident did occur”.

This, her letter says, means “UN investigators employed the lowest evidentiary standard” in making such serious allegations.

She suggests that the timing of the report is being driven by people within the UN who seek to damage recently renewed diplomatic ties between Congo and Rwanda. The rapprochement between the countries has contributed to greater stability in Central Africa.

“The timing of the report only heightens these suspicions as it is being circulated on the eve of Rwanda’s presidential election and at a time when Congolese officials are calling for (the UN Mission in Congo) to close up shop,” the letter says.

Congo, which also has denied the allegations, also questioned the timing of the report.

Rwanda contributes troops to peacekeeping missions in Chad, Haiti, Liberia and Sudan.

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