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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Court to decide on DR Congo case
Rwandan soldiers
Rwandan troops entered DR Congo in 1998
The Democratic Republic of Congo hopes a verdict from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague on Wednesday will order the immediate withdrawal of Rwandan troops from Congolese territory.

The verdict will come after a meeting in Durban late on Tuesday night between Presidents Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

In its lawsuit against Rwanda at the court, the Congolese Government asked the court to order the troop withdrawal, an arms embargo against Rwanda and a ban on the sale of gold it accuses Rwanda of looting.


Rwanda has rendered itself guilty of the genocide of more than 3.5 million Congolese people

DR Congo lawsuit

The Rwandan Government has called for the DR Congo requests to be denied by the court and for the case to be struck from the court list.

There are still an estimated 20,000 Rwandan troops in DR Congo and in the last week there have been reports from the United Nations that they are carrying out deployments in areas where fighting has been taken place.

In an attempt to reduce tensions between the two countries, their two presidents met in Durban at the African Union summit to discuss the creation of a neutral zone along their border and the possible deployment of UN troops there.

Little information has emerged from the talks but representatives from both countries have differing views of the proposals, according to the French news agency, AFP.

Crucifixion

The Congolese case at the ICJ says that Rwandan troops invaded DR Congo in August 1998 and occupied parts of eastern Congo, including the town of Goma.

Its charges are serious. "In killing, massacring, raping, throat-slitting and crucifying, Rwanda has rendered itself guilty of the genocide of more than 3.5 million Congolese people," the lawsuit says.

Child in Kindu hospital
The Congolese people have suffered from years of war

The suit details cases of assassination, kidnapping, systematic looting, inhuman and degrading treatment and destruction of Congolese flora and fauna.

The Rwandan submission to the court says that the DR Congo has failed to produce evidence that "links Rwanda to any of the activities that are alleged to have taken place".

It goes on to say that there is no "jurisdictional basis for the current proceedings".

In defence of the presence of its troops in DR Congo, Rwanda has argued that it is a matter of self-defence against Rwandan Hutu rebels based in DR Congo.

Security concerns

The meeting of the two countries' presidents in Durban was an attempt to end their four year war. They met in the presence of South African President Thabo Mbeki and UN Secretary-General Kofu Annan.

Representatives from both sides said afterwards that the presidents were studying proposals on deploying UN troops to create a neutral area along their shared border.

President Joseph Kabila
President Kabila met the Rwandan president

But divisions are evident on how to achieve peace along the border.

President Paul Kagame has said that he will not agree to the withdrawal of his troops from DR Congo until his security concerns are met, according to South African radio.

A special envoy for President Kagame, Paul Mazimhaka, says the Rwandans want the border area inside the DR Congo to be patrolled by both Congolese and Rwandan troops under the supervision of the UN.

The idea for some form of buffer zone inside the DR Congo was rejected by the country's Foreign Minister, Leonard She Okitundu.

"What we want is a security curtain, consisting of UN troops on the border, with the Rwandans getting out of our country and staying on their side," he told AFP.


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13 Jun 02 | Africa
04 Jul 02 | Africa
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24 May 02 | Africa
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