Rwanda government takes the fight to the UN GoE
We will not take this kind of treatment lying down â€“ Mushikiwabo
After months of attempting to placate western governments intent on pinning the blame for the DRC chaos on Rwanda, the tide it seems, is about to turn.
The Government of Rwanda is set to pursue legal action against a United Nations-appointed Group of Experts that has accused Rwanda of fermenting dissent and political chaos in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda has been widely accused of arming and training a rebel group known as the M23, which is a mutinous faction of the DRC Army composed mainly of fighters formerly of the CNDP rebel group that were integrated into the army following a 2009 Rwanda-negotiated peace accord but claim that the DRC government has since reneged on the deal.
The Rwanda government has subsequently been subjected to various types of punitive action including suspension of financial aid by major donors such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, all the while maintaining its innocence.
After cooperating willingly with all demands made by the foreign governments so willing to pronounce Rwanda guilty without any tangible evidence, and producing evidence that proves the allegations as baseless, the aid embargo was eventually lifted and the situation cooled, but nonetheless continues to cast a long shadow over the governmentâ€™s foreign allegiances.
After President Paul Kagameâ€™s recent heartfelt speech regarding foreign aid and international justice being used as a â€˜dangling carrotâ€™ to dictate how Africans must live, the Rwanda government will no longer accept to play victim in this matter. Instead, itâ€™s taking the fight to the oppressors.
Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, speaking yesterday to New York based Metro Newspaper, had tough words for the UN Group of Experts, and in particular its coordinator, Steven Hege.
“We will not take this kind of treatment lying down,” Mushikiwabo stated.
The Foreign Minister categorically stated that Hegeâ€™s long history of opposition towards the Rwandan government is well documented and that the panel has been â€œhijackedâ€ by his political agenda.
She also revealed that in order to clarify matters once and for all, the government had retained the services of Washington, D.C., law firm Akin Gump to review Mr. Hegeâ€™s prior writings on Rwanda, which carried out extensive research into Hegeâ€™s writings and concluded that his placement as chair of the committee was questionable at the very least.
Akin Gump concluded, â€œThe lack of transparency, the reliance on questionable sources and the complete lack of analysis of witness bias, motivation or contradictory evidence in the conclusions reached [make] those conclusions highly unreliable.â€
â€œThe fact-based evidence, which was vetted by Akin Gump and submitted to the Security Council, in the case of Hege, is damning in the extreme and should have disqualified him from taking the position as coordinator of the Group of Experts in the first place.â€ Mushikiwabo pointed out.
Hege has been exposed as an FDLR sympathizer by his 2009 writings entitled â€œUnderstanding the FDLR,â€ where he describes, falsely, the current Rwandan government as made up of illegitimate outsiders, a â€œUgandan Tutsi elite,â€ and that peace in our region is only possible â€œwhen international opinion eventually sours on the Rwandan regime.â€
Hege has since pulled the article off the internet, and remains mum on the issue.
Minister Mushikiwabo also called the entire UN selection process of its committees as â€œbrokenâ€ and in need of repair, saying that not only Rwanda but other African countries as well have been hurt by these â€œmiscarriages of justice.â€
â€œIt is clear that the U.N. process for the appointment and vetting of â€œexpertsâ€ is broken and in desperate need of repair. The failed expert selection on Congo, which has somehow turned into an indictment of Rwanda, is but one of a number of recent miscarriages of justice of the same kind hurting African countries, including expert panels on Cote dâ€™Ivoire and Somalia-Eritrea.â€
â€œThe time has now come for the international community to know about the treatment being meted out to powerless countries like Rwanda through unjust, outdated and punitive international mechanisms such as the U.N. Group of Experts when it falls into the hands of individuals with a personal political agenda.â€ Mushikiwabo underscored.
The Rwandan Foreign Minister also outlined plans that are in place to resolve the DRC crisis, saying that a regional solution is not only the best way forward, but the only way forward.
Steps have been taken however, to attempt to bring the entire DRC melee to a final and binding close.
Minister Mushikiwabo elaborated that eleven countries of the region, including Rwanda and the DRC, are joining forces to bring about a lasting solution to the crisis.
This includes deploying a neutral force to monitor the borders between the eastern DRC and its neighbors. It also includes a â€œjoint verification mechanism,â€ which is a way to test the truth â€“ or otherwise â€“ of the many claims and counter-claims that circulate during periods of instability.
â€œThe regional peace process has led to a two- month cease-fire, and there is overwhelming consensus that the only way out of the mess is a political solution, not a military one.â€
â€œThere are dozens of armed groups running riot, and the state of governance is weak. The problems didnâ€™t emerge overnight and canâ€™t be fixed overnight, but there is a strong belief that a regional solution is not only the best way forward — it is the only way forward.â€
The United Nations has remained silent and on a â€œno commentâ€ stance in regards to Steven Hegeâ€™s writings and Rwandaâ€™s call for him to be removed.