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Rwanda's Mushikiwabo Says UN Looks for Excuses, Hege is Ideologically Bankrupt

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 29 -- The day after a Rwandan delegation sharply criticized the UN's Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions Group of Experts and its coordinator Steve Hege, Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said that Hege and his report are "ideologically bankrupt." Video here.

  Inner City Press asked Minister Mushikiwabo four questions after her closed door meeting interacting with the UN Security Council.

  While she did not answer if the Rwandan government believes that Hege (and his Group of Experts colleague Marie Plamadiala from Moldova) met with Jean Marie Micombero, she called Hege's "ideological leanings troubling."

   She said, "for anybody who is sympathetic to the genocidal militia FDLR, which is proven through his writings, to be the man who is at the head of this Group of Experts is just an aberration... We have signaled our concern to the appointing authorities and we will wait to see what the reaction is. But I will find it deeply troubling that the Security Council could not look into how this man was appointed"

   Hege spoke to the DRC Sanctions Committee on August 28. Inner City Press previously first pointed to two articles he published in 2009 about the FDLR -- one was taken down quickly off Scribd after Inner City Press linked to it. We continue to await an explanation of this. The UN told Inner City Press it vetted Hege.

  Last time she was at the UN, Mushikiwabo was critical of the performance of the UN mission in the Congo, MONUSCO. On August 29, Inner City Press asked her specifically about MONUSCO chief Roger Meece, and the Mission's admitted flying of Congolese officials to try to recruit Mai Mai militia to fight the M23.

  Mushikiwabo said that, while failing in their missions, MONUSCO and some in the Congolese army FARDC are looking to "find excuses."

  She said much the same when Inner City Press asked how the M23 rebellion should be addressed, saying solutions should come from within the DRC, not by blaming the neighbors.

   Inner City Press asked of media reports that the SADC has offered to send troops along the DRC - Rwanda border. Mushikiwabo said she is not aware of such an offer, but rather since four SADC members are also members of the Great Lakes groups ICGGLR, then SADC -- of which the Congo is a member -- could offers support and advice.

  On August 28, it was Patrick Karuretwa, Defense & Security Adviser to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who told Inner City Press regarding Hege that "a line that has been crossed by the coordinator of the Group of Experts. We expect any member to have views, baggage, but here a line has been crossed. You [pointed to] two of his articles.... in one of them he said the international community is souring on Rwanda. We say he's been given the tools to do precisely that."

   There are other questions for Hege, ranging for alleged radio intercepts to claiming the presence of one Jack (or "Jacques") Nziza on the Congolese border when Rwanda says there are more than 100 alibi witnesses, including diplomats.

 We'll have more on this.  Inner City Press believes there is a need for more accountability at the UN, including of sanctions "experts." Watch this site.

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