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Congo welcomes UN 'mapping report' on late 1990s atrocities

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David Karp/AP

(Read caption) Secretary General of United Nations, Ban Ki-moon (r.) meets with Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the United Nations on Sept. 24.

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The UN mapping report is out! (available here)

Not a whole lot has changed. After a legal review, the allegations of genocide have been couched in more cautious terms, and various arguments 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 United Nations High Commission's website.

Perhaps the more important development is this op-ed written by Congo's 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 the op-ed, Mr. Ileka welcomes the UN's mapping 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 eastern Congo, where he met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame several times. Apparently, the Rwandan government lobbied Kinshasa hard to denounce the report. Rwandan 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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--- Jason Stearns blogs at Congo Siasa.


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