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Monday, 16 April, 2001, 22:45 GMT 23:45 UK
UN alleges DR Congo exploitation
Monuc troops arrive in Goma
The UN has deployed peacekeepers in Congo
By Mike Donkin

A United Nations panel of experts has called for strong measures, including sanctions, against Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi for becoming involved in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to profit from illegal exports of minerals and timber.

The panel says it is surprised at the huge extent of the wheeling and dealing it found

The panel's report says there has been systematic looting of these resources.

It is also critical of the presidents of Uganda and Rwanda for allowing this to happen.

The UN Security Council will now meet to decide what action to take on the ground.

The 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.

Alarming rate

It concluded that this illegal plunder was going on at an alarming rate.

The report is particularly damning of the roles played by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi - three of the half dozen neighbouring countries involved in the conflict.

Presenting the panel's findings, its leader, Safiatou Ba-N'Daw, called for the UN Security Council to declare an embargo on export from the DR Congo of gold, diamonds, other minerals and timber.

She also urged a ban on the supply of any arms to rebel groups engaged in the conflict there, a freeze on the rebels' financial assets, and that the World Bank and the IMF should consider suspending cash support for Uganda and Rwanda.

Illegal trade

The presidents of those two nations were personally criticised. Mrs Ba-N'Daw said they were clearly aware of the exploitation that was going on.

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

Mrs Ba-N'Daw added that a list had been compiled of all individuals and companies who were illegally profiting from trade in Congo's wealth and that would also go to the Security Council for action.

The panel says it is surprised at the huge extent of the wheeling and dealing it found. All those involved in the Congo conflict were benefiting greatly, it said.

The only ones suffering were the Congolese people.

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See also:

15 Apr 01 | Africa
Congo ceasefire 'broken'
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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