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Ban Ki-moon in Kigali to calm UN war crimes report row

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-08

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meets state officials in Kigali Wednesday amidst a row over a leaked UN report accusing Rwandan troops of massacring civilians in DR Congo in 1996-97. Rwanda is threatening to pull troops from peacekeeping missions.

AFP - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday in the midst of a major dispute over a leaked UN report on war crimes allegedly committed by Rwanda in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda has been infuriated by the report, which accused Rwandan troops and their allies of staging genocide style massacres of civilians in DR Congo in 1996-97.

Kigali has threatened to pull its troops out of international peacekeeping missions.

A spokesman at the United Nations headquarters said Ban had arrived in the Rwandan capital for the unannounced visit and would hold talks with Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

"Tomorrow morning he will meet President Paul Kagame," the spokesman said.

"The secretary general decided to visit Kigali to speak directly with the Rwandan President and other government officials about their concern regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo Human Rights mapping report compiled by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights."

Radio Rwanda, a state broadcaster, on Tuesday evening confirmed the visit.

Ban was accompanied by Roger Meece, the UN special representative for DR Congo; Alain Le Roy, an under secretary general for peacekeeping operations; and Ivan Simonovic, assistant secretary general for human rights.

The United Nations last week delayed publication of its DR Congo report until October 1 to give Rwanda and other nations more time to comment on the contents.

A draft of the UN report, seen by AFP, said Rwandan Tutsi commanders and their rebel allies carried out systematic attacks on Hutus in DR Congo that resembled the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Following the leaking of the draft, Rwanda threatened to pull its peacekeepers out of international missions. The move would have a particular impact on the UN force in Sudan if the threat was carried out.

"You cannot accuse our army... and want the same army to be a disciplined moral army to protect civilians around the world," Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said of the report.

During his swearing in ceremony on Monday for his second presidential term, Kagame criticised foreign "lies" about his country, but he did not make a specific reference to the UN report.

The United Nations has not publicly commented on the Rwandan threat, apart from saying that Rwanda's contribution is much valued.

According to UN figures, there were 3,485 Rwandan troops in the peacekeeping mission the troubled Darfur region of western Sudan at the end of July, and a further 143 in other missions.

The UN probe documented more than 600 incidents in DR Congo between 1993 and 2003 in which tens of thousands of people, mainly civilians, were slaughtered.

The UN leader will return to New York on Thursday, his spokesman said.

Date created : 2010-09-08