- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004


KIGALI, Rwanda — U.S. envoy Donald Yamamoto arrived in Kigali yesterday amid accusations that Rwanda has redeployed troops in the east of the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Top security brass in Kinshasa, meanwhile, called for speeding up plans to send more troops to the east, and the U.N. Security Council has told Rwanda to pull out any troops it has sent across the border to Congo.

Mr. Yamamoto, the deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, arrived from Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday morning, a U.S. diplomat based in Kigali told AFP.

“Mr. Yamamoto is supposed to stay until [Thursday]. He will meet the president,” the diplomat added.

President Paul Kagame’s staff were unable to confirm such a meeting. They said Mr. Yamamoto had asked for one, but that no formal reply had been made.

The United States and Britain are Kigali’s main Western allies.

Mr. Yamamoto also is scheduled to meet a delegation of Ugandan officials expected to fly to Kigali, as well as Richard Sezibera, Mr. Kagame’s adviser on the Great Lakes region.

“We will discuss the recent crisis,” Mr. Sezibera said. “But it is not a meeting dedicated to this crisis. It has been planned for a long time.”

Kigali has denied numerous reports, including some from U.N. peacekeepers who are “almost certain,” that Rwanda has sent troops into eastern Congo to battle Rwandan Hutu rebels based there since fleeing after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Kigali has stressed repeatedly, however, that it intends on sending soldiers across the border to take on the rebels.

Mr. Yamamoto is to head to Congo after Rwanda.

On Tuesday, the 15-nation Security Council called on Rwanda to “withdraw without delay any forces it may have in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The council also expressed “its intention to consider further actions, including measures that might be taken against those individuals who, by their actions or statements, compromise the peace and transition process” in Congo.

Earlier Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the United Nations’ mission in Congo said it had been “established almost with certainty” that Rwandan soldiers had entered the country. She was unable to say whether they were still there.

The council expressed “very deep concern” about the reported presence of the Rwandan troops and said it “strongly condemns any and all such military action.”

It also pressed Congo to disarm and disband any Rwandan rebel elements on its territory.

Such forces were allied to the Kinshasa government in Congo’s devastating 1998-2003 war, in which Rwandan troops backed Congolese rebels.

Also Tuesday, top security officials meeting in Kinshasa “gave the go-ahead for speeding up the redeployment of troops in the east of the DRC so as to ensure the integrity of the territory, protection of citizens and their goods,” said an official statement.

After an “in-depth examination of the security situation created … by the presence of Rwandan troops on Congolese soil,” the security officials called for deployment of forces “in conditions that will reassure the people and strengthen the units of the 8th military region.”

On Tuesday, about 100 Congolese soldiers in Goma, on the Rwandan border, gathered outside the town’s airport pledging to prevent such a deployment, said Col. Patrick Colas des Francs, a senior official of the U.N. mission in Congo.

The soldiers were rebels during the war and speak Kinyarwanda, the official language of Rwanda. Such troops have been opposed to postwar army reforms aimed at creating a united military, fearing that such moves would undermine their traditional power bases.

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