30 Nov 2009

(AFP) – 7 hours ago

PORT OF SPAIN — Tanzania has fiercely denied allegations said to come from the United Nations that it has illegally funneled arms to Rwandan Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"It is simply not true. It is an outright malicious lie being concocted with the evil intention of tarnishing the good name of Tanzania and our government," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said in a statement late Saturday.

"Tanzania has never and will not even contemplate to indulge in such despicable, reckless and worthless causes of trafficking in arms which foment violent conflicts against friendly neighbors like Rwanda and the DRC."

Membe, attending a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad, also demanded an apology from the United Nations, saying the allegations were contained in a report for the UN Security Council.

He said the allegations were based on "second hand quotes, hearsay, farfetched assumptions and stretched extrapolations."

In the report, as yet unpublished and seen by AFP, researchers said this year's attempts by Congolese, Rwandan and UN forces to disarm Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern DR Congo have not succeeded and global action is needed to cut off their funds.

"This report concludes that military operations against the FDLR have failed to dismantle the organization's political and military structures on the ground in eastern DRC," the detailed 93-page document begins.

The report alleges that the FDLR recruits and arms fighters using profits from a corrupt international trade in minerals, and calls on the international community to step up efforts to cut off rebel funds.

The militia sprang up in camps in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) housing mainly ethnic Hutu refugees who fled Rwanda after their leaders launched the 1994 genocide, which left some 800,000 people dead.

The document was researched on the ground in Congo and the region over six months by a five-strong stream of experts hired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

It was addressed to the chairman of the UN Security Council committee on September 9. It is not known when it will be published.


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