UN report on Congo genocide embraced by country's ambassador

The UN report on the Congo genocide, heavily criticized last month when a draft was leaked, was formally released today with tempered accusations against Rwanda and Uganda.

Valentin Flauraud/Reuters
Margot Wallstroem, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, attends a press conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, September 27, 2010. Wallstroem shared with the human rights council her assessment of the the mass rapes in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and addressed the issue of sexual violence in conflict and rape as a tactic of war.

The UN mapping report is out! (available here) Not a whole lot has changed. After a legal review, the allegations of genocide has been couched in more cautious terms, and various arguments have are considered for why it may not have been genocide after all. This version also includes comments from the Congolese government, and other government have been offered to post their responses on the UN High Commission's website.

Perhaps the more important development is this Op-Ed written by the DRC ambassador to the UN Atoki Ileka on the Huffington Post, which has also been sent to the press as the Congo's official response to the report. In it, he welcomes the report, saying it is "detailed and credible," before focusing on what must come next. He suggests that President Kabila has always wanted an international tribunal, but that international and Congolese experts should convene in Kinshasa to study the different options. That sounds like an invitation for the UN to organize a conference.

Strangely, Ileka does say that this is his "personal opinion" – how can one write an Op-Ed as DRC ambassador and then say it's his personal opinion? That might just be the government protecting itself – apparently President Kabila personally tasked Ileka to write the response, so we can optimistic that this is the official response.

However, at the same time, Ileka says: "In addition to seeking justice for the victims of the terrible crimes, we also seek to improve diplomatic and brotherly relations with all our neighboring countries for a lasting peace."

How will they balance this push for justice with their "brotherly relations" with Rwanda?

Kabila just finished a tour of the East when he met with President Kagame several times. However, apparently the Rwandan government lobbied Kinshasa hard to denounce the report. Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo was calling the Congolese delegation to the UN General Assembly to put out a joint statement, but (according to people in the delegation) they let the phone ring.

It will be a fine line to walk between brotherly relations and justice.

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