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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Uganda army chief 'lied' over Congo
Miner holding coltan
Demand for coltan in mobile phones has fuelled the war
The commander of Uganda's army has admitted helping businesses profit from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

During heated exchanges with a United Nations commission investigating the "plunder" of Congolese resources, Major General James Kazini also admitted defying orders from President Yoweri Museveni while he was Uganda's top man in DR Congo.


I did not contradict the president. I was only being flexible, your Lordship

Major General James Kazini
UN reports have named General Kazini as being one of those to have profited from the Congolese war - an allegation he denied.

Uganda has angrily dismissed suggestions that the government profited from the war.

The UN has also accused Rwanda and Burundi of benefiting from the war, while the Zimbabwean army has set up several joint ventures with its Congolese counterpart.

General Kazini had repeatedly refused to appear before the commission until a change of mind on Monday.

'Long argument'

Commission chairman Justice David Porter accused him of telling repeated lies.

After questioning by the commission in Kampala, General Kazini admitted he had personally written to his field commanders in eastern Congo, instructing them to allow a Lebanese-owned diamond mining company to operate without hindrance.

Major General James Kazini
Kazini denied any personal gain from DR Congo

Mr Museveni had told the commission that he had ordered the Ugandan army to only help Ugandan businesses.

At first, General Kazini denied disobeying these orders but after what the New Vision newspaper describes as a "long argument", he also admitted helping Congolese businesses.

"Maybe that was an oversight on my part, but facilitating Ugandan businessmen working with who?" he asked.

"I did not contradict the president. I was only being flexible, your Lordship," he said.

Justice Porter said that General Kazini had told 10 lies on Monday "alongside the lies you have told before".

'Alarming'

In one year, Ugandan military planes transported 4,000 civilian passengers, Justice Porter said.

The first UN report, published a year ago, said that the illegal plunder of Dr Congo's resources was going on at an "alarming rate".

A second UN report was published in November 2001, which cleared the Ugandan Government itself of any wrongdoing but accused General Kazini and several Ugandan army officers of gaining personal wealth from mining operations in DR Congo.

DR Congo has diamonds, gold, rain forests and other mineral deposits including coltan - a vital ingredient in the manufacture of mobile phones.

See also:

16 Aug 01 | Africa
16 Apr 01 | Africa
04 May 01 | Africa
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