“Well, we believe there is a credible body of evidence that supports the key findings of the Human Rights Watch report, including support by senior Rwandan officials to the M23 and of Rwandan military personnel in the D.R.C. We call upon Rwanda to immediately end any support to the M23, withdraw military personnel from eastern D.R.C., and follow through on its commitments under the framework,” US State Department Spokesperson, Ms. Jen Psaki told the media today, July 23, 2013.
Jen Psaki was reacting to allegations of support by Rwandan senior military and political leaders to the renegade M23 Congolese rebels. Rwandan military and political leaders have been accused of founding, funding, supporting, and reinforcing the M23 Congolese rebels since the rebels launched their attacks against the DRC Government in early 2012 (see here and especially US Congress Tackles Rwandan Government Support to M23 Rebels: Rwanda and Uganda Led by A Mafia-Like Network? in December 2012 or Kinshasa: How Rwandan Defense Forces Conquered Goma and M23 Claimed Victory of November 25, 2012 )
This is not the first time the US State Department takes a tough stand against Rwanda for supporting the M23 rebels. In July 2012, The US State Department, through its spokeswoman Darby Holladay, “decided it can no longer provide foreign military financing appropriated in the current fiscal year to Rwanda,” because of the deep concern “about the evidence that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including M23(US Government Warns Governments Supporting Rebellions of June 8, 2012.”
M23 is a Congolese militia mainly composed of Rwandan backed ex-CNDP Tutsi ethnics integrated within the Congolese army known as FARDC and who later mutineered. According to several sources, including the United Nations Panel of Experts in the DRC, The UN mission in DRC MONUSCO, the United States, Human Rights Watch, and several NGO, M23 is mostly armed, trained, reinforced and supported by the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) (see our articles: DRC: Rwandan Defense Forces’ March On Kinshasa Has Begun of July 8, 2012. and The US Government Officially Slams the Rwandan Government for Supporting Congolese Rebels of July 1, 2012).
Since late 2012, NGOs started leaving Rwanda due to drastic cuts in international aid by several Western Governments, including Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, the United States, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany enacted after the United Nations Security Council accused Rwandan Military and Government leaders of forming, arming, and supporting M23 Congolese rebels
In her press briefing Jen Psaki reminded that “we [the US Government], of course, condemn M23’s latest round of attacks on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s military. M23’s renewed fighting seriously undermines regional and international efforts to peacefully resolve the situation in eastern D.R.C. The Secretary, as you mentioned, is going to be heading to New York on Thursday to chair a meeting of the National Security Council focused on the Congo and focused on the situation in the Great Lakes.”
The decision to condemn Rwandan military leaders of involvement comes as the US Secretary of State John Kerry, as the UN Security Council President for July 2013, is due to lead discussions on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes Region of Africa at the United Nations on Thursday July 25, 2013.
What is even more important is that the call coincides with the publication of a new Human Rights Watch report accusing Rwanda of reinforcing rebels and the rebels of war crimes and crimes against humanity (see Human Rights Report DR Congo: M23 Rebels Kill, Rape Civilians of July 22, 2013).
In the press briefing, Jen Psaki says, referring to Human Rights Watch report “Well, it was a very powerful case made in the Human Rights Watch report.,” hinting to the fact that the US government has already endorsed the report.
Now the question is how Rwandan Government will respond and, most importantly , how the Thursday July 25, 2013 meeting chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and that Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo will attend, will end.
© 2013 AfroAmerica Network