Sunday, October 21, 2012

U.N. Steps Up Pressure on Rwanda


By JOE LAURIA
October 19, 2012 

 
UNITED NATIONS—The U.N. Security Council on Friday urgently called on countries to add names to a planned U.N. sanctions list of officials to be punished for supporting a brutal mutiny in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The call comes just two and a half months before Rwanda can block its own nationals from the list when it becomes a Security Council member, diplomats said.
Rwanda was elected on Thursday to a two-year term on the U.N.'s most important body despite outcries from human rights groups that blame Rwanda for supporting the uprising of a group known as the M23. Adding names to U.N. sanctions lists requires a consensus of all 15 council members, effectively handing a veto to Rwanda.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told a small group of reporters Friday that the M23 rebels were a persecuted minority in Congo and not the monsters they are portrayed as by the international community. She strongly denounced U.N. reports that have named senior Rwandese officials, including the defense minister, as direct rebel supporters. Diplomats said such officials could land on the sanctions list but only before Rwanda sits in the council on Jan. 1.
The Security Council called on countries in the region to condemn the M23, which it blamed for "abuses of human rights, including summary executions, sexual and gender based violence and large scale recruitment and use of child soldiers."

The council said it would impose financial and travel sanctions on the M23 leadership and any officials supporting it. Diplomats said these would include Rwandan government officials if the lists could be compiled before the end of the year.

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