Kinshasa: Hutu rebels of the Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda said on Thursday that they were
"in no way involved" in mass rapes reported in the east of the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
The FDLR are "in no way involved in these odious
actions and takes umbrage at the baseless accusations launched
against them by the secretary-general of the United Nations,"
Ban Ki-moon, the rebel movement`s executive secretary
Callixte Mbarushimana said in a statement from Paris.
The United Nations on Monday reported that at least
179 women and children had been raped in recent weeks in
villages of the Nord-Kivu province of the DR Congo, where the
Rwandan rebels are active.
Ban expressed outrage over the rapes, which his
spokesman Martin Nesirky said were committed during attacks by
the Mai-Mai tribal militia and the FDLR, which has been based
in eastern DR Congo since after the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
"This is another grave example of both the level of
sexual violence and the insecurity that continue to plague the
DRC," Nesirky said on Tuesday.
But Mbarushimana said that "The FDLR raises serious
questions on the real motives that led the high authority of
the UN to rush to incriminate them before even carrying out a
preliminary inquiry into these odious acts."
Because of the seriousness of the incident, Nesirky
said, Ban has decided to send Atul Khare, his Assistant
Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to the DR
Ban`s special representative for issues involving
sexual violence, Margot Wallstroem, has been put in charge of
the UN response to the incident.
The FDLR today urged the United Nations to "set up
without delay an independent international commission tasked
with shedding full light on all these criminal acts" saying it
was ready to "collaborate with this commission" and with Ban`s
Members of the FDLR are accused by Rwanda of taking
part in the genocide 16 years ago, in which 800,000 people
were killed, mainly members of the Tutsi minority, before the
extremists fled into the DR Congo when Tutsi-led forces took
power in Kigali.
Rape is a weapon of war used against civilians in
eastern DR Congo, where assaults on villagers are frequently
reported and blamed on a range of armed movements, including
the DR Congo`s regular army, the FARDC.