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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 July, 2004, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Rwanda denies DR Congo meddling
A soldier of the dissident troops guards a truck filled with ammunition, 6 June 2004
The rebels occupied Bukavu for a week in early June
Rwanda has rejected UN accusations that it played a "destabilising role" in eastern areas of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

A draft report written by UN-appointed experts said Rwanda had actively supported renegade Congolese troops who seized the town of Bukavu last month.

A Rwandan spokesman told the BBC that the findings were "total rubbish".

He said the panel had provided no proof to support their conclusion that Rwanda had maintained a presence in DR Congo.

In its draft report issued on Friday, the UN-appointed panel said Rwanda recruited, trained and sheltered the renegade soldiers who staged last month's mutiny.

The experts, who visited the region last month, said Rwandan officials rounded up potential fighters in the border town of Cyangugu and offered them money or phones to fight with dissident Congolese troops.

Rwanda helped recruit DR Congo rebel soldiers
Rwanda gave direct and indirect support to rebels
Rebels used Rwandan town as base
Rwandan troops play 'destabilising role' in eastern DR Congo

"The group of experts concluded that Rwanda's violations involved direct and indirect support, both in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Rwanda, to the mutinous troops," the draft said.

But these conclusions were flatly denied by the spokesman for Rwanda's armed forces, Colonel Patrick Karegeya.

He told the BBC that the experts had not been impartial, and that their report served as a public relations exercise for Congolese President Joseph Kabila.


The BBC's Robert Walker in Kigali said the findings come as a serious blow to Rwanda and will be seen as vindication by Congo, which had claimed Rwandan troops backed the rebels.

Our correspondent adds that despite frantic diplomatic efforts in recent weeks, deep distrust and tension remain between the two countries.

Renewed fighting in the east in the past two months has left Congo's peace process severely weakened.

The leader of the renegade soldiers, General Laurent Nkunda, remains at large and there have been fresh clashes in recent days between his forces and government troops.

Under a peace deal agreed last year, all Congolese factions were supposed to unite into a single army, but progress has been slow.

The deal ended a five-year war that dragged in Rwanda and five other neighbouring countries.

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