Congo: business as usual

jenyan1 jenyan1 at
Tue Apr 17 16:09:11 MDT 2001

A few remarks on the article:
1) Y. Museveni, when he is not being praised by the west as a "new
breed of African leader" is not shy about his links with large
mining houses. His insurgency in Uganda in the first half of the
1980's was financed in large part by Tiny Rowland and Lonhro.

2) P. Kagame is a graduate of a US military academy (west point) who,
before being promoted to the post of president of Rwanda was a
senior intelligence officer in the Ugandan army (under Y. Museveni).

3) Unlike Mugabe who has had the financial rug pulled from under
him by the "international community" for (among other things) his
involvement in Congo, Uganda particularly continues to benefit
from an unabated flow of "aid" and "loans" and to be hailed as
the model of "reform" (ie IMF sanctioned theft and pauperisation).

 By Declan Walsh in Nairobi

 The Independent
 18 April 2001

 The presidents of Uganda and Rwanda are "on the verge of
 becoming the godfathers" of an illegal network plundering gold,
 diamonds and coltan, a rare ore, from war-torn Congo,
 according to a UN report that calls for a limited trade embargo
 against the central African nations.

 A five-member expert panel found that Yoweri Museveni of
 Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda  the main sponsors of the
 three-year rebel war  had "indirectly given criminal cartels a
 unique opportunity" to exploit the treasure-trove of mineral
 wealth in occupied east Congo.

 They said the plunder is being facilitated by the Belgian national
 airline, Sabena, and a host of other European companies,
 including two British ones: Afrimex, which declined to comment,
 and Ventro Star, which could not be contacted.

 But regional analysts criticised the report as "unbalanced",
 saying it ignored similar crimes being committed by the
 government's allies, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, in southern
 and western Congo.

 "What about Robert Mugabe? He's doing exactly the same
 thing," said Hannelie de Beers, senior researcher with the South
 Africa-based Institute for Security Services.

 According to the report commissioned by Kofi Annan, the Congo
 conflict "has become mainly about access, control and trade of
 five key mineral resources: coltan, diamonds, copper, cobalt and

 It focused on the exploitation of coltan (colombo tantalite), which
 is a precious hardening agent for metal used in a range of
 high-tech industries; low supplies created a worldwide shortage
 of Sony Playstation game consoles last Christmas.

 Its export is earning the Rwandan-backed Rally for Congolese
 Democracy (RCD) at least $1m (700,000) a month.

 The report also notes that Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have
 been exporting large quantities of diamonds and gold since the
 war started in 1998  even thought their own deposits are

 The panel called for a ban on the trade of the rare minerals to
 and from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. It also called on all 189
 UN states to freeze the assets of the Congolese rebel movements
 and their leaders.

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