MPs call on UN to probe MONUSCO
Lawmakers from both Chambers of Parliament, yesterday, unanimously condemned the UN Stabilising Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and passed a resolution calling on the UN to investigate whether the mission has not breached its mandate.
The recommendation followed the appearance of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, before the House to brief MPs on regional and international issues, especially the latest negative reports about Rwanda.
Reports indicate that the force, with more than 20,000 peacekeepers, maintains a “friendly relationship” with the top commanders of the DRC-based terrorist group, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), whose members are largely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Despite denials by MONUSCO, several former FDLR defectors who crossed to Rwanda over the last few months, speak of several incidents when the force came to the militia group’s rescue, including bailing them out with food supplies.
Charged lawmakers yesterday wondered why MONUSCO was conniving with leaders of FDLR, which is considered as the root cause of the instability in the region.
Several MPs, including Senate Vice President Bernard Makuza and Landrada Umuraza, also described Human Rights Watch (HRW), which alleges that Rwanda is backing Congolese rebels, as a detractor.
“MONUSCO was brought in to help the Congo leadership bring peace but instead of doing that, it is collaborating with FDLR. It should take a clear stand so we know the real situation,” Makuza said.
Speaker Rose Mukantabana said: “Parliament requests that the United Nations should help solve, in a fast manner, the problem of the FDLR because this is the root cause of insecurity in the region ever since the year 1994.”
“The United Nations must examine whether MONUSCO is doing what it was sent to do and why it was established, before its mandate is extended [by next month] especially since it has increasingly become clear that the population in the Congo continues to be tortured in the areas whether FDLR operates.”
The legislators noted that MONUSCO had “completely failed in its mission”, a situation they say dates back to the days of its predecessor, MONUC, from November 30, 1999 to June 30, 2010.
Senator Marie Claire Mukasine slammed the UN Mission for “failing to bring any semblance of normalcy to the region despite all the 13 years of its presence.”
Minister Mushikiwabo told the MPs that with MONUSCO’s current mandate set to end on June 30, its top leadership has been in New York pressing for a mandate extension at the time the mission is plagued by allegations of inefficiency as well as elements within it sympathising with the genocidal FDLR militia.
On the reports that have implicated Rwanda in the DRC crisis, as well as another imminent report by a team of UN experts, the minister said various foreign interests had colluded to distort the truth, thus compounding the problems.
“When Congolese, especially those from regions near Rwanda speak about the behaviour of the UN staff, one wonders if they actually came to solve the existing problems or cause more trouble than they are solving,” Mushikiwabo said.
In its July 2011-June 2012 budget, MONUSCO used a whopping US$1,489,390,500.
On Wednesday, MONUSCO Force Commander, Lieutenant General Chander Prakash, told the Security Council that: “The peacekeeping environment is becoming increasingly complex and challenging and is coming under increasing scrutiny.”
Mushikiwabo informed the lawmakers that the government had raised its concerns over MONUSCO’s “shameful activities” with the Mission head and UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Roger Meece, and will continue to do so at higher UN levels so as to find solutions.
She said that as “a responsible” member of the UN, Rwanda cannot keep quiet in the wake of “such scandals” by a UN mission. “The activities of MONUSCO are shameful,” she said.
Parliament supported the government’s position that Rwanda shouldn’t bear blame for the problems in Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We condemn the harassment that continues to be committed against Congolese who speak Kinyarwanda and requests that the harassment stops henceforth,” Speaker Mukantabana said.
The MPs also condemned “the genocide ideology that continues to be spread in the region” and requested that all those involved be followed up and held accountable.
They also pledged to support the government’s quest to enhance good relations with the rest of the world.
Contact email: karuhanga.james[at]newtimes.co.rw