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Retired bishops named in UN report on Congo civil war: The Church of England Newspaper, July 22, p 6. July 23, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Rwanda, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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A report submitted to the United Nation’s Security Council claims two retired Anglican bishops have served as go-betweens for the Rwandan government and the Congolese rebel group M23.

In a report dated 26 June 2012, the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported that Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and Bishop John Rucyahana had facilitated talks between the government and rebel leaders.

The Group of Experts reported that the Rwandan Government had broken the arms embargo by providing “material and financial support to armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the recently established M23, in contravention of paragraph 1 of Security Council resolution 1807 (2008).”

The 48 page report detailed numerous violations of the U.N. embargo citing.  It accused the Rwandan Government of providing “Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory; Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23; Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23; Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23; Direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23; Support to several other armed groups as well as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) mutinies in the eastern Congo; Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.”

The Group of Experts stated two Anglican bishops had convened a meeting organized by the Rwandan Defence Forces for leaders of the CNDP – the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple, CNDP  is a political armed militia established by Laurent Nkunda in the Kivu region in 2006 that under the terms of the recent peace accord is to be integrated into the Congolese army.  The Group of Experts further identified the two bishops as “senior members” of Rwanda’s ruling government party.

Paragraph 29 of the report stated in part:

“Another similar M23 meeting with Rwandan authorities took place on 26 May 2012 in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, at Hotel Ishema. According to intelligence sources and to politicians with close ties to Kigali, the RDF organized the meeting for CNDP politicians, which was chaired by Bishops John Rucyahana and Coline, both senior RPF party leaders. The aim of the meeting was to convey the message that the Rwandan Government supports M23 politically and militarily. All Rwandophone politicians and officers were instructed to join M23, or otherwise leave the Kivus. In particular, CNDP politicians have been asked to resign from the North Kivu Governorate and to withdraw from the Presidential Majority.”

On 27 June the Rwandan Foreign Minister refuted the assertions of collusion between her government and Congolese rebel groups.  Louise Mushikiwabo said that it was deeply regrettable that the “media frenzy over Rwanda’s alleged involvement in the DRC”  had forced the “hasty publication of an interim report without giving the government the opportunity to analyse its contents and respond in a systematic fashion.”

“This is a one-sided preliminary document based on partial findings and is still subject to verification,” she said, adding the “UN Group of Experts has accepted our invitation to Kigali to do what should have been done before; carry out relevant consultations and obtain the facts. We intend to provide factual evidence that the charges against Rwanda are false. These, as well as Rwanda’s own allegations, will hopefully be reflected in the final UN report due in November.”

Bishops Rucyahana and Kolini did not respond to our email requests for comments or clarification to the claims made in the Group of Experts report.  However, the Anglican Church of Rwanda (PEAR) told The Church of England Newspaper that it was not involved, nor aware of the incidents cited in the report.  PEAR was a church for all the people of Rwanda, Tutsis and Hutus, a spokesman said and was committed to staying out of politics.  To link the church with state politics was “untrue” and “unfair”.

Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje said: “We were not aware of the UN report or any involvement of our retired Bishops as contained in the report. PEAR is in the Proclamation of the Gospel and not in politics between two countries or simply put in politics. We are not able to comment on the report or the names therein.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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