Rwanda anger at DR Congo mutiny charges

M23 fighters - army defectors in DR Congo, June 2012 Tens of thousands of people, including some defecting soldiers, have fled the violence following April's mutiny in the eastern DR Congo

Rwanda's foreign minister has angrily denied reports that her country is backing an army mutiny in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

An unpublished document by UN experts has alleged that the Rwandan military has been supporting the mutineers.

But Louise Mushikiwabo said such allegations were endangering the safety of Rwandans in eastern DR Congo.

She made the comments during a visit to the UN and said Rwanda was urging rebels to negotiate rather than defect.

Start Quote

Rwanda's top army leadership in no way would be involved in destroying the peace they have been working very hard to build”

End Quote Louise Mushikiwabo Rwanda foreign minister

Tens of thousands have fled the recent violence in eastern DR Congo.

'Inflammatory'

A separate internal UN report, seen by the BBC, appears to corroborate claims that rebels in eastern Congo received support from Rwanda.

"Of course Rwanda's top army leadership in no way, and I'm very categorical about this, in no way would be involved in destroying the peace they have been working very hard to build," Ms Mushikiwabo told journalists in New York.

She said the allegations were already creating a dangerous climate for Rwandan citizens in DR Congo, where 11 men had been captured and beaten last week.

The foreign minister also expressed concern about inflammatory anti-Rwanda rhetoric in Congolese and other African media.

Troublesome neighbours

Rwanda map
  • April-June 1994: Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda
  • June 1994: Paul Kagame's Tutsi rebels take power in Rwanda, Hutus flee into Zaire (DR Congo)
  • Rwanda's army enters eastern Zaire to pursue Hutu fighters
  • 1997: Laurent Kabila's AFDL, backed by Rwanda, takes power in Kinshasa
  • 1998: Rwanda accuses Kabila of not acting against Hutu rebels and tries to topple him, sparking five years of conflict
  • 2003: War officially ends but Hutu and Tutsi militias continue to clash in eastern DR Congo
  • 2008: Tutsi-led CNDP rebels march on North Kivu capital, Goma - 250,000 people flee
  • 2009: Rwanda and DR Congo agree peace deal and CNDP integrated into Congolese army
  • 2012: Mutiny led by former CNDP leader Bosco "Terminator" Ntaganda

The Congolese government has written to the UN Security Council, demanding that the UN's evidence - contained in an annex to a report by UN experts - be published, and that it pressure Rwanda to halt any support for the mutineers.

Fragile truce

Diplomats say the US has sought a delay in publication to give Rwanda a chance to respond, but expect the information to eventually be made public.

They are concerned that the dispute might spell the end of the three-year truce between Rwanda and the DR Congo, which has helped maintain a fragile stability in the region.

The area has suffered years of fighting since 1994, when more than a million ethnic Hutus fled across the border into DR Congo following the Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were slaughtered.

But the BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN in New York says there is no indication at this stage that the Security Council is ready to take any action against either party

Rwanda has twice invaded its much larger neighbour, saying it was trying to take action against Hutu rebels based in DR Congo.

The current mutiny is being led by fighters from Gen Bosco Ntaganda's former rebel group the CNDP, which was integrated into the Congolese national army in 2009 as part of a peace deal.

Known as the "Terminator" and wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen Ntaganda has fought for various militias over the years and has told the BBC he has no involvement in the recent army mutiny.

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