|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Rwanda’s Foreign Minister
Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, today strongly denied allegations that her Government was supporting mutineers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, declaring there was nothing to gain by such an action on Kigali’s part.
Addressing a press conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York, she wanted to “clear the air” about some of the recent developments in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there appeared to be what she called “a flurry of misinformation and disinformation” about her Government’s role there. She was joined at the press conference by Eugène-Richard Gasana, Rwanda’s United Nations representative, and Major Patrick Karuretwa, Security Adviser to the President.
Ms. Mushikiwabo said that Rwanda had been the subject of “disingenuous” accusations related to the security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and it was hardly the first time her country had been the scapegoat for problems in the region. At the outset of the current wave of violence, her Government had warned anyone who would listen about any precipitous action in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. That region had a history of multiple interests, armed groups and individuals, where spreading false information could touch on precipitous action that would impact the lives of the people, particularly those in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Rwandan border.
She stressed three points. The first was that Rwanda was not in any way supporting any armed group in the region and would not participate in any destabilizing action in the region, in particular eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Second, there had been so many allegations made that it was important for all those that cared about stability in the region to calm down and look at the facts on the ground and in the context of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the whole Great Lakes region, in particular. As her Government had warned in the past, the false reports that kept coming up about her Government’s complicity in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had an “extremely dangerous” impact on the lives of the people in that area, and now on the lives of Rwandan citizens in the region, she said.
“So, while we get carried away with activities with armed groups and the mutineers and so forth, it is very important for those of us who have been there before and who want peace to prevail not to allow a war of words that is now clearly starting to harm innocent people in the region”, Ms. Mushikiwabo said, adding that her Government was aware that the authorities in Kinshasa had sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council asking that Rwanda be condemned for allegedly supporting the mutiny in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
She said Rwanda regretted and denied those allegations, even more so because the two countries had from the beginning of the crisis been engaged in discussions and a dialogue and both sides’ defence and security organs had met several times and continued to meet through the Joint Verification Mechanism that the two countries had set up, at the initiative of Rwanda, as well as on the operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) on the Congolese side. Thus, given the gravity of the violence and the fear about potential escalation, the Government of Rwanda had been engaging different actors, beginning with the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to ensure that the situation did not get aggravated and that tensions were kept under control, so that, whatever happened, the violence would end relatively quickly and the people of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the many refugees that had entered Rwanda since April, would be allowed to return home.
Continuing, she said there had been much energy spent on accusations, allegations and rumours, and they only succeeded in shifting the focus away from where it should be: the conflict. “And as a result, we don’t see the situation getting better”, she declared, adding that also worrisome to Rwanda was the recent trend of violence against Rwandan citizens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, beginning with the serious incident last week of 11 young men that had been captured in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near their own home on the Rwandan side. Those young men had been beaten, tortured and some of them had been burned, and then dumped at the border post between the two countries.
In response to questions, Ms. Mushikiwabo also strongly criticized the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and accused it of bias in the manner it conducted its business, charging that, while that mission was not the only United Nations mission of its size and complexity facing similar problems and challenges in the world, she believed there was need to revisit MONUSCO’s mandate. She said that the Mission’s mandate, after 13 years in existence, needed to be seriously re-examined when it came up for review soon, because it had clearly not been able to “stabilize” the situation it was mandated to stabilize.
She was also critical of non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch, which she said had spread false claims and reports on her Government for purposes of nothing other than “fundraising” for itself. She stressed that her criticism of Human Right Watch was not a blanket condemnation of all humanitarian non-governmental organizations, as there were many such organizations that were doing commendable work. However, she believed organizations like Human Rights Watch needed scrutiny with regard to their intentions and activities, particularly in Africa, where some of them came believing they could “do anything” they liked.
She also confirmed Rwanda had applied for one of the rotating seats on the Security Council, saying her country’s record on, and contribution to, peacekeeping was deserving of a seat on the Council. The Rwandan Minister is in the United States for United Nations-related discussions in New York and bilateral meetings with the United States Administration in Washington, D.C.
* *** *For information media • not an official record