Sunday, July 1, 2012

US Suggests Rwanda Stop Murdering Congolese, Wishes It Happy Birthday

If you were hoping that the US was going to buckle under pressure from HRW, Amnesty International, Global Witness, Open Society, and Enough, and actually do something serious about Rwanda's support for the mutineers of North Kivu, don't worry: Your prayers have been answered. The State Department issued this press release Saturday afternoon:

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 30, 2012
The United States welcomes the release of the findings of the Group of Experts of the UN Security Council’s Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee. We are deeply concerned about the report’s findings that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including mutinous elements now operating as the M23 armed group. Any such support threatens to further undermine security and fuel displacement in the region. We are also concerned about the report’s findings that the mutineers have forcibly recruited child soldiers.
Consistent with the UN Security Council’s arms embargo, we have urged all parties to respond constructively to the Group of Experts’ findings and have asked Rwanda to halt and prevent the provision of such support from its territory. We have also urged the DRC and Rwanda to implement the principles of the joint Congolese-Rwandan communiqué issued following the June 19 meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers in Kinshasa. Restraint and dialogue in the context of respect for each other’s sovereignty offer the best opportunity to resume the difficult work of bringing peace and security to the eastern DRC and the broader region.

So there you have it: The US is "deeply concerned" about the report's findings. It is hard to imagine a more forceful indictment of Rwanda, or a clearer statement of America's passionate commitment to peace and justice in the region.

Of course, a funny thing about that press release. It seems June 30th happens to be Rwanda's independence Day. You might think a press release like that would put a bit of a damper on US-Rwanda relations, might even incline us to be a little sterner with them than normal. 

I'm kidding. No sooner had the US released its statement of concern than it released this  birthday card, celebrating America's close relationship to Rwanda. And this statement, unlike the other one, comes under Secretary Clinton's signature. After all, in the words of Auld Lang Syne, what's a little murder, a little invasion and plunder, a little child soldier recruitment, between us old friends?
 Secretary Clinton on Rwandan National Day
30 June 2012

Rwandan National Day
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Rwanda as you celebrate the 50th anniversary of your independence this July 1.
For years, Rwanda and the United States have worked together as partners and friends. We appreciate your contributions toward the future peace and security of countries such as Libya and Sudan. And we look forward to working with you to promote greater regional stability which is fundamental to Rwanda’s security and prosperity.
As you celebrate your independence, know that the government and people of the United States stand with you. We value this relationship and look forward to a brighter future for both our peoples.

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