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Congo's Tshibanda Says Doesn't Know Hege, Denies Mai Mai, Likes Dodd Frank

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- The M23 mutineers in Eastern Congo were the topic of a press conference Friday afternoon from 4 pm past 5 by Congolese minister Raymond Tshibanda.

  Despite the length of the session it was difficult to get Tshibanda to engage with the specific criticisms against the Group of Experts report on which he relied.

   As the first questions after a 45 minute opening statement by Tshibanda, Inner City Press asked him of Rwanda's critique of the Group of Experts report and its the Group's coordinator Steve Hege, who has written that the FDLR militia is not really a threat to Rwanda. Click here for Inner City Press story.

Despite relying on Hege's report, Tshibanda deferred on this question, saying that he does not know Hege personally but the Security Council surely "before recruiting him, did the necessary inquiries and was convinced."

This has been questioned by Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, on August 29 at the UN: YouTube here, Facebook click here.

Then Tshibanda said that the contents of the report are not questioned. But they are. For example, Janvier Saddat or Saddam is presented as from Rwanda, when in fact he was integrated into the Congolese army FARDC in 2009. Jack Nziza has alibi witnesses. But Tshibanda's presentation listed Nziza, as Jacques, and asks for sanctions on him.

There were other factual problems. Inner City Press has asked the UN about its use of MONUSCO mission aircraft to flying FARDC officials to meet with the Mai Mai militia, to recruit them to fight the M23. The UN had admitted to flying, but says it was not involved in the meeting.

But Tshibanda simply denied that FARDC works with the Mai Mai. What was the purpose of the meeting the UN flew them to? Tshibanda said he wouldn't respond to something he didn't hear. But his answer, and what the UN has admitted, do not seem consistent.

In non-M23 news, Inner City Press asked Tshibanda for the DRC position on the conflict mineral provisions of the Dodd Frank law and the SEC's new rules. He said the DRC likes them. But they only apply to companies under SEC jurisdiction. We'll have more on this.

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