UN report on Congo minerals

These are the conclusions of the controversial UN report on Congo minerals
which has been rejected by Uganda particularly, also by Rwanda, saying that
minerals come out through `free trade'. The recommendations will be hard to
implement.
............................................................................

Two items:

1. Highlights of U.N. report on Congo minerals

UNITED NATIONS, April 17 (Reuters) - Following are highlights from a new
U.N.-commissioned report on the exploitation of mineral and other resources
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by various foreign armies and
private companies.

The report released on Monday by a U.N.-appointed five-member panel was
ordered by the 15-member Security Council to investigate how minerals and
timber were fueling the country's civil war.

CONCLUSIONS:

-- In September 1998, "mass scale looting" of gold, diamonds, timber,
cobalt, coltan, money and livestock and property by Rwandan, Burundian,
Ugandan and rebel soldiers allied to them began.

-- The plunder then developed into "systematic and systemic exploitation,"
mainly by Rwanda, Uganda and their allies through organized extraction of
minerals, taxation in areas under their control and monopolies to corner
markets.

-- Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni "are
on the verge of becoming the godfathers of illegal exploitation of natural
resources and the continuation of the conflict." But the report does not
accuse them of personally profiting from the Congo war.

-- Rwandan forces and the rebel allies in the Rally for Congolese Democracy
(RCD) also mined large amounts of coltan, used widely in light bulb
filaments and high-tech equipment from cellular phones to nuclear reactors.

-- Foreign firms from a large variety of countries in Europe and Asia are
importing the illegally-mined minerals and timber from Rwanda and Uganda.

-- The panel acknowledged an "imbalance" in its report because of a paucity
of data on Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, whose armies are propping up the
Kinshasa government.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

-- a temporary embargo on exports from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi of coltan,
timber, gold, diamonds and other minerals.

-- a freezing of financial assets of rebel movements and their leaders

-- a freezing of financial assets of companies who continue to participate
in exploiting natural resources in Congo.

-- immediate embargo on weapons to rebel groups.

-- suspension of support by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund
to Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi until the end of the conflict.

-- a commission set up by governments in the region to investigate financial
activities conducted in their territories in connection with the Congo war.

-- Congo should curb the flow of illicit diamonds by liberalizing the
diamond trade.

-- Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda should compensate farmers and others whose
crops, land and resources were confiscated after 1998.

Congo wants UN Council to prosecute Uganda, Rwanda

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, April 18 (Reuters) - The Congo called on the U.N. Security
Council on Wednesday to pursue prosecution of individuals responsible for
looting the nation's mineral wealth, beginning with the presidents of Rwanda
and Uganda.

But it is doubtful the council will take concrete action soon. A panel
probing links between the country's civil war and economic exploitation will
investigate another three months.

Congo's U.N. envoy, Atoki Ileka, told reporters the civil war, which began
in 1998, was mainly "for the plundering of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo's natural resources by the countries of aggression."

He urged the council to make sure prosecutions were initiated against
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, accused
in a Monday report of being "on the verge of becoming the
godfathers of illegal exploitation of natural resources."

Atoki spoke after the council held its first discussion on a 56-page report
from the five-member panel exploring the relationship between economic
plundering and a continuation of the war. Rwanda and Uganda support rival
rebel groups while the armies of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola are bolstering
the Kinshasa government's ragtag army.

The panel's report, commissioned by the council, was released at a sensitive
time, with deployment of U.N. peacekeepers under way to separate combatants
in the Congo's many-sided war. But if peace overtures fail,
French envoys said pressure would mount on the council to take action.

Among the panel's many proposals was an imposition of sanctions on Rwanda
and Uganda as well as Burundi, including a ban on trade in diamonds, copper,
cobalt, gold and coltan, a composite mineral used in cell phones and nuclear
reactors.

"The Council itself is a long way from any conclusions on those
recommendations, " British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock, this month's
council president, said.

"Council members have a unanimous desire to bring to an end the illegitimate
exploitation of the natural resources in the DRC," Greenstock said. But he
said discussions, additional probes and public debates would take some time.
The panel found "mass-scale looting" of minerals, coffee, timber, livestock
and money by Rwanda, Uganda and their rebel allies in what it called the
Congo's "self-financing war."

The Rwandan pillage included surrounding banks and taking out the cash and
killing hundreds of elephants for their tusks. In later days Rwanda
organized trade more systematically, using the money to pay for its soldiers
and economy. Uganda was alleged in the report to have enriched a number of
army officers and other traders, including Museveni's brother and
sister-in-law.

But the report gathered little information on Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia,
saying it received no cooperation, although it noted concessions given to
interlocking companies in Zimbabwe and officers for the exploitation of
minerals. In Kigali, the Rwandan government said the report was biased and
intended
to smear the country's army and leaders. "What the report calls illegal
exploitation is normal trade and exploitation of resources by the Congolese
in conjunction with international and regional companies," Patrick
Mazimhaka, a special envoy to Rwanda's Kagame, said.

In Kampala, Uganda's minister in charge of the presidency, Ruhakana Rugunda,
said: "As far as I am concerned, what has been going on is real trade. If
anybody has been doing business with the Congo, then it's normal," he said
on Tuesday. The council for the past year has been receiving and acting on
reports of
how exploiting diamonds had fueled Angola's civil war. In Sierra Leone, a
panel report said a gems-for-guns trade with Liberia had spurred fighting by
insurgents.

But diplomats said the Congo was far more complicated, with raging
lawlessness and a plethora of rebel groups engendering the economic
free-for-all in the vast central African country.