The recent report by human rights advocacy group Amnesty International that Rwanda still has troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was "based on unfounded allegations, speculation and innuendo", the Rwandan Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Monday.
"We categorically reject insinuations by Amnesty International, some NGOs and journalists that we still have forces in the South and North Kivu [provinces] and even in Ituri region," the ministry said. "It is wrong and simply aimed at tarnishing the image of Rwanda."
Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan released the report last week in Kampala, Uganda, urging governments neighbouring the Congo, as well as the Congolese transitional government, to pressure armed groups into stopping the continued abuse of human rights.
Khan, who was on a visit to the Great Lakes region, urged President Paul Kagame to use Rwanda's influence to end human rights abuses by armed groups in eastern Congo.
However, the ministry reported that the government of Rwanda was concerned about Amnesty's continued publication of reports involving Rwanda in the DRC, saying this was "completely at variance with Rwandan reality".
During talks with Kagame and other government officials, Khan urged Rwanda to play a leadership role in the region to promote human rights and international humanitarian law, address impunity for alleged human rights abuses by the Rwandan soldiers in eastern DRC and to uphold a UN arms embargo on eastern DRC.
The "insinuation" that Rwanda still has forces in the Congo or that it supports any armed group in Ituri was "merely based on unresearched material", the ministry added.
It said the government was actively working to normalise relations with the Congo, on the basis of mutual respect.
"We reject all attempts to portray sections of Congolese society as mere puppets mindlessly dancing to the tunes of foreign puppeteers. Rwanda firmly resists this view," the ministry said.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions