UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Rwanda, which had threatened to withdraw its peacekeepers from Sudan’s western Darfur region, has decided to leave its troops in the conflict-torn territory, a top U.N. official said on Friday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon went to Rwanda earlier this month after President Paul Kagame threatened to end participation in a joint U.N./African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur because of a controversy over alleged atrocities in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told reporters that Kagame, who was in New York this week to attend the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders, confirmed that Rwandan troops would stay in Darfur.
“After the visit of the Secretary-General in Kigali ... two weeks ago, President Kagame reconfirmed, and again here, that his troops will remain in the Sudan, and especially in Darfur,” he said. “We are extremely pleased by the decision.”
A draft U.N. report, leaked last month, said Rwandan soldiers may have committed genocide in the Congo in the 1990s. Rwanda called the allegations “malicious” and “ridiculous” and threatened to withdraw its 3,500 troops from the 20,000-strong UNAMID force in Darfur.
The U.N. report covers more than 600 serious crimes committed by various forces during the 1993-2003 period in which tens of thousands of people were killed, U.N. officials say.
The period saw the fall of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and a five-year conflict involving six foreign armies, including Rwanda’s Tutsi-led force.
After quashing the 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda, Kigali’s army invaded Congo, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters who had taken part in the killings and fled to eastern Congo. The draft report alleges that they may also have killed many Hutu civilians.
Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said earlier this month that “Rwanda will never accept that the Rwandan Defence Forces be accused of crimes they are not guilty of, and that is the bottom line.”
After his visit to Kigali, Ban said he had agreed with Kagame that Rwanda would be able to contribute comments on the report, which is to be published on October 1.