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Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Anger at 'one-sided' DR Congo report
UN troops
The UN has deployed peacekeepers in Congo
The United Nations Security Council is to scrutinise a report it commissioned into the looting of mineral resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo where civil war has been raging since 1998.

The report, published on Monday, recommended sanctions against Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, for fomenting conflict for economic gain.

The countries deny the accusations, calling the findings one-sided.

Correspondents say the report could run into difficulties in the security council due to claims that the panel received little co-operation from Congo's allies: Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia.

The report did not call for any action against them.

The report comes out like gossip, it does not read like a proper report

President Museveni's adviser
DR Congo has been under a ceasefire since the Lusaka peace accords in July 1999.

On Tuesday Burundi denied looting any riches and challenged the UN to prove otherwise.

"Everything this report says about Burundi is false," said Communications Minister and government spokesman Luc Rukingama.

"The government of Burundi is not pursuing any material gain in DR Congo. Our motivation is the security of our border."

Mr Rukingama said the government had yet to receive the full text of the UN report, released in New York on Monday.

'Alarming rate'

A panel of five experts spent six months touring Central Africa to pin down who was behind the exploitation of the DR Congo's vast natural resources and how this activity was fuelling the war there.

They found that Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda had been exporting gold, diamonds, cobalt and tin.

Ugandan President Museveni
Uganda's Museveni was criticised in the report
The report concluded that this illegal plunder was going on at an alarming rate.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the Security Council to ban shipments of minerals and timber to and from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

One of the most profitable minerals in DR Congo is coltan, a natural alloy of columbite and tantalum, used to manufacture mobile phones, avionics and computer games.

Prices have dropped in recent weeks however, because of reduced demand and increased production outside the DR Congo.

'Slapdash report'

The brother of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni is one of those specifically criticised by the UN report and that, the panel says, makes the president an accomplice.

But John Nagenda, a senior media adviser to Mr Museveni, questioned the accuracy of the findings.

"The report comes out like gossip, it does not read like a proper report. It reads like a slapdash report," he said.

Patrick Mazimhaka, Rwanda's envoy to DR Congo, also called the findings biased.

"By targeting the rebels and their backers, the UN is fighting the Kinshasa [government's] war," he said.

"It is a report the UN should be ashamed of as it is totally biased against one side in the conflict, relying heavily on hearsay and quoting unnamed and biased sources who have grievances against Rwanda."

'Legitimate business'

Rebels holding northern Congo also called the report biased and uninformed.

Francois Mwamba, the Congolese Liberation Front's finance secretary, said diamonds, gold, timber and coltan, were exported from rebel-held areas under the same procedures used by the government. He said his group licensed any exporter interested in doing business in DR Congo.

"Our system is a liberal system, we are not here to interfere, we just ask (business people) to have the proper documents to do business," he said.

"You can find people here from Lebanon, Central African Republic and Belgium doing business."

A ceasefire has held in certain regions of Congo, and troops from foreign armies are starting to pull back from frontlines, monitored by UN peacekeepers.

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See also:

16 Apr 01 | Africa
UN alleges DR Congo exploitation
15 Apr 01 | Africa
Congo ceasefire 'broken'
04 Apr 01 | Africa
Uganda ready to leave DR Congo
23 Feb 01 | Africa
Congo pull-back plan welcomed
13 Feb 01 | Africa
Congo UN force cut
16 Jan 01 | Africa
DR Congo's troubled history
26 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Democratic Republic of Congo
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