Envoy says African Union should be problem solving-oriented

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is probably one of the countries where hard feelings exist about the performance of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which marks its 38th anniversary on Friday.
This is particularly so, says a Dakar-based DRC diplomat, because the continental body is seen to have failed to "adopt a clear position" when the country was invaded by Rwanda and Uganda in August 1998.
In an interview on the eve of Africa Day, DRC's Charge d'Affaires in Dakar, Fataki Nicolas Musambya, told PANA: "We expect the African Union, the successor of the OAU, will be more oriented towards solving African problems instead of being ambivalent on issues like the invasion of the Congo.
" According to him, the OAU's lack of clarity on certain issues stemmed from the fact that it served as "a trade union of African heads of state" in which leaders dared not to tell-off those who committed gross errors.
"Personally, what I expect from the AU, whose constitutive Act takes effect on Saturday, is that it will serve the interests of African populations rather than continuing to be a trade union of African leaders.
"The African Union needs to find mechanisms of being actively involved in solving urgent problems instead of leaving this role to external organisations like the UN to do so," said Musambya, who heads the DRC mission in Dakar.
"The OAU has done a lot for Africa but we recognise there were also many weaknesses because of its trade union characteristics," insisted the diplomat.
After the DRC was invaded by Uganda and Rwanda nearly three years ago, "we expected much more from the OAU but it was the external world which got more involved while the continental body merely followed what was decided from outside.
" Musambya commended the UN Security Council for its recent interest in finding a solution to the DRC conflict, in which Rwanda and Uganda are backing rebels bent on toppling the government in Kinshasa.
Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe rushed several thousands of troops to prevent this from happening.
A 12-member UN Security Council delegation has this week visited Kinshasa and are still touring in several capitals in the troubled Great Lakes Region in an effort to find an end to the armed conflict in the DRC.
UN peacekeepers have been deployed to protect observers supervising the implementation of the highly violated July 1999 Lusaka peace agreement on the DRC.
Nonetheless, the head of the DRC embassy in the Senegalese capital denounced what he termed as "international silence" towards the genocide perpetrated by Rwandan and Ugandan troops in eastern DRC.
"I am very pleased now that the UN Security Council is taking control of the DRC affair.
But we have been wondering where the big powers were as 2.
5 million Congolese people were being killed by invading troops from Rwanda and Uganda in eastern DRC.
" "People are still talking of the Rwandan genocide in which an estimated one million people were killed.
But it appears nobody cares about the 2.
5 million who have been killed in eastern Congo," said Musambya, complaining of double standards.
Asked to comment on denials by Uganda and Rwanda that their troops were engaged in looting DRC's natural resources, Musambya who hails from Kivu said: "One does not expect a thief to accept that he or she has stolen.
" "It is on issues like these that we expect the African Union to be very outspoken, particularly when one country invades another to loot, as the Rwandans and Ugandans have been doing," he added.
On claims by Kigali that its troops were in the eastern DRC to prevent the Hutu "Interahamwe" militia from crossing back to commit another genocide in Rwanda, the diplomat said: "Ask anybody whether they have shown in public a single Interahamwe they have captured.
" "Fortunately, the international community has started to understand the kleptomaniac behaviour of the Rwandans.
They could have behaved differently if they were in Congo to solve a border problem," he added.
"What they have gone to do in our country is simply to loot our natural resources.
That is why we demand that they should leave the Congo.
" Rwandan and Ugandan troops helped former President Laurent-Desire Kabila to topple President Mobutu Sese Seko, who had ruled the country with an iron fist since 1965.
His son, Maj.
Joseph Kabila, replaced the elder Kabila who was assassinated on 16 January.

25 may 2001 14:48:00

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