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Rwanda, Uganda refute report on arms to DRC

[DRC] Ugandan troops in departure parade, Bunia, Ituri District, Orientale Province, eastern DRC, 25/04/03 Bunia town centre.
UPDF in departure parade, Bunia, April 2003 (IRIN)

Uganda and Rwanda have denied statements contained in a report issued on Wednesday by the UN Security Council that the two countries had delayed to give information to officials monitoring arms sanctions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"We have not delayed anything," Uganda’s foreign minister, Sam Kuteesa told IRIN on Thursday. "What we have done is to give them information whenever they ask for it."

The main concern of the report by the UN’s five-member group of experts on the DRC is that "weak border controls allow for lucrative alliances between leaders of armed groups and unscrupulous businessmen".

The report said the experts had received a number of allegations of weapons deliveries that they could not independently verify but which remained "suspicious".

It also said there were "significant inconsistencies" in statistics provided by the governments of Rwanda, Uganda as well as the DRC on the production, import and export of precious metals.

Rwanda’s foreign affairs director Alphonse Kayitaire told IRIN on Thursday: "We took [members of the group experts] everywhere they wanted, including customs offices."

He added: "We responded to each and every issue they asked both in written form and verbally. It is absurd that they now turn around and report the opposite of what transpired."

The experts said they had asked Rwanda for information on the whereabouts of DRC rebel leaders Jules Mutebutsi and Laurent Nkunda, and their followers. "This information has yet to be provided," their report noted.

They had also asked Uganda to provide details of meetings with leaders of armed groups fighting in Ituri, the district in eastern DRC that borders Uganda. The report said, "The group is still waiting for this information."

Kuteesa, Uganda’s foreign minister, complained that "whenever we give information they have asked for more".

The report recommends that the UN Security Council sanctions need to be extended. "The arms embargo demands a flexible and permanent mechanism for unambiguous information-sharing and cooperative action between states."

Kayitaire said: "I am sure they are looking for a renewal of their mandate to keep their jobs."

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

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