U.S. again under fire over Rwanda

Critics say Susan Rice should put pressure on Rwanda's president over support of Congolese rebels


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Natasha Lennard
December 10, 2012 9:23PM (UTC)

Human rights advocates and U.N. diplomats have criticized the U.S. for its failure to act over the current crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Critics charge that U.S. officials, primarily U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, should put more pressure on Rwanda to end its support for the Congolese M23 rebel movement.

According to the New York Times:

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[C]ritics — who include officials of human rights organizations and United Nations diplomats — say the administration has not put enough pressure on Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, to end his support for the rebel movement whose recent capture of the strategic city of Goma in Congo set off a national crisis in a country that has already lost more than three million people in more than a decade of fighting. Rwanda’s support is seen as vital to the rebel group, known as M23.

Support for Mr. Kagame and the Rwandan government has been a matter of American foreign policy since he led the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front to victory over the incumbent government in July 1994, effectively ending the Rwandan genocide. But according to rights organizations and diplomats at the United Nations, Ms. Rice has been at the forefront of trying to shield the Rwandan government, and Mr. Kagame in particular, from international censure, even as several United Nations reports have laid the blame for the violence in Congo at Mr. Kagame’s door.

Last week, Rice decried the actions of M23 via Facebook. "The U.S. condemns in the strongest terms horrific M23 violence. Any and all external support has to stop,” she wrote, drawing criticism for not naming Rwanda's president. Rice, who has been under fire in recent months over the narratives surrounding the September attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, remains a strong contender to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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