As Congo Shows Photos, France Again Takes Sides and UN Follows Suit, Diplomats Say
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, October 12 -- The murky, tragic world of Eastern Congo remains enveloped in intrigue and displacement, despite the UN spending more than billion dollars a year on its peacekeeping mission there. Last week Congo accused Rwanda of invading, or being ready to invade. The Congolese Ambassador to the UN, Atoki Ileka, wrote publicly to the Security Council implying that he wanted an immediate in-person meeting.
This was followed up with 34 photographs, first reported by the UN correspondent of Reuters and first put online by Inner City Press, purporting to show Rwandan involvement and paraphernalia on the Congolese side of the border. The photos include Congolese soldiers holding in the air purported Rwandan backpacks, guns, and medical insurance cards. (Click on each to view the photos.) But as usual in Africa's Great Lakes region, there was more than met the eye.
A prominent African Ambassador, asking that his name and country not be identified, told Inner City Press on Friday that the fault lay mostly with Congo and the UN, for failing to deal with the ex-genocidaires still camped in Eastern Congo. Now these ex-FAR Interahamwe are broadcasting radio into Rwanda, he said, threatening to return and continue their killing ways. He added that the UN mission in the Congo, MONUC, has "no credibility."
This Ambassador said that in reality, Congo wanted a Council Presidential Statement, to be drafted by France, and not an in-person meeting at which Rwanda could tell its side. France supported the genocidaires, he said. They still have an agenda, and [Rwandan President] Kagame knows it.
In fact, some say the dispute is between Nkunda and Rwanda, on the issue of who gets to take and keep the weapons and materiel that will be captured from the Congolese army in and around Goma. Nkunda is ready, in this scenario, to take over, but Rwanda would prefer to take the weapons. And thus the carving up of the Congo for resources of all kinds continues.
Congolese soldier shows off purportedly Rwanda backpack, Security Council reaction not shown
But what is the UN doing about all this? Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson on October 10 pointedly declined to confirm or deny any Rwandan border crossing. Another UN spokesperson, declining to speak on the record, blamed the local populace for protesting against the UN. "They don't understand our mandate," he complained.
But there are reports of the Indian peacekeepers in Kivu praising Tutsi rebel Laurent Nkunda, then reversing course and fighting his forces and not the Hutu FDLR. Now following a UN finding that up to 60 Indian peacekeepers engaged in sexual abuse and exploitation in the Kivus, even the Indian military's counter-inquiry finds reason to believe that 10 members of 1 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles hired underaged prostitutes. Money is being spent in a variety of ways, and people are being killed, including by the UN. But what is being accomplished?
The new head of UN Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, is like his predecessor French. Since France loudly demanded to keep this UN post, the question arises what are the communications between France and Mr. Le Roy? To what degree are the positions and even fact-finding of UN Peacekeeping in the Congo aligned with French positions? Does France embrace the Congo's photos?
Again, the photos include Congolese soldiers holding in the air purported Rwandan backpacks, guns, and medical insurance cards. (Click on each to view the photos.)
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