Angola + 2 more

Angola: Rwanda, Togo deny aiding UNITA

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JOHANNESBURG, 13 March (IRIN) - Rwanda and Togo have denied allegations in a UN report leaked to the media at the weekend that they helped the Angolan rebel UNITA movement break international sanctions, media reports said on Monday.
The report, commissioned by the UN Security Council to look into UNITA's sources of support, is due to be released on Wednesday by the chairman of the UN Sanctions Committee on Angola, ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada. The UN Security Council in 1993 imposed an arms and fuel embargo on UNITA rebels in an effort to end the 25-year civil war in Angola.

The report, leaked to the media at the weekend, accused Rwanda's vice-president Paul Kagame - who is also the country's defence minister - of allowing UNITA leaders into the country to arrange diamond sales and weapons deals.

Togo's president, Gnassingbe Eyadema, according to the media accounts, allegedly provided money to family members of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi and helped ship weapons to the rebels. Eyadema is alleged in the report to have at least once received a "passport size" package of diamonds from Savimbi.

"The government of Rwanda categorically denies these allegations and reserves the right to address them squarely when the report is officially presented to the Security Council," a Rwandan government statement said on Sunday.

Togo's government also dismissed as "baseless" accusations that Eyadema helped to fuel Angola's war by providing UNITA with illegal arms and fuel in exchange for diamonds.

Ten African countries are fingered in the report as having allowed their territories to be used either to supply UNITA with fuel needs or to arrange arms and diamonds deals as well as accommodating the rebel movement's representatives.

Belgium is accused in the report of failure to institute controls on contraband diamonds reaching its international diamond market in Antwerp. Bulgaria is said to be the origin of most UNITA weapons since 1997. UNITA personnel were allegedly trained in Bulgaria in the usage of these arms, while many of the flight crews for contraband equipment for the rebels are said to be from the Ukraine.

The report further said western European countries have unofficial UNITA presence without direct support of these governments. These UNITA representatives are said to be most active in Belgium, France and Portugal. Switzerland and the United States also have UNITA representation, added the report.

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