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Uganda, Rwanda deny U.N. accusations of backing DRC rebels

October 18, 2012 |  2:45 pm

Uganda

Uganda and Rwanda angrily rejected accusations of backing rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a United Nations report tying them to the insurgents was leaked to reporters this week.

The confidential U.N. report, leaked to Reuters on Tuesday, reportedly asserted that the Rwandan defense minister was commanding the rebellion and that Rwanda and Uganda have funneled weapons and troops to the rebels.

Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo rejected the accusations and claimed the expert panel had been “hijacked” by the political biases of its coordinator, the Rwanda News Agency reported. Rwandan officials have accused the coordinator of being an apologist for the forces behind its genocide.

Uganda also denied the accusations.

"It's hogwash, it's a mere rumor that's being taken as a report,” Ugandan military spokesman Felix Kulaigye told Radio France Internationale.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been roiled by the rebellion, which includes soldiers who mutinied with a Congolese army general wanted by the International Criminal Court. The soldiers had been brought into the army as part of an earlier peace deal.

Suspicions that other countries are involved in the conflict have simmered since violence erupted this year. Human Rights Watch also has accused Rwanda of aiding the rebels, saying officials had armed and backed the mutiny. Western countries cut their aid to Rwanda this year over the allegations.

Despite the furor over the allegations, Rwanda won a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. Temporary members of the group do not have the power to veto action, as do permanent members France, China, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia, but sitting on the powerful body is still a coveted position.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Henry Okello Oryem, the Ugandan minister for foreign affairs, speaks to members of the media in Kampala on Wednesday. Credit: Phil Moore / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

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