DR Congo

DRC: Official inquiry contradicts UN report on resources plunder

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KINSHASA, 21 March (IRIN) - The attorney-general of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Luhonge Kabindangoyi, said on Thursday that he had found no evidence to substantiate a report by the UN of widespread plundering of the country's natural resources and minerals by means of irregular business contracts.
However, he admitted that there were question marks over the conduct of those involved in the signing of contracts.

Luhonge was announcing the findings of an official inquiry launched on 23 October last year following the publication of the UN report on the plunder in the DRC. The report had cited in particular contracts for the exploitation of minerals signed between the DRC government and Zimbabwe, its ally in the war.

Luhonge said the inquiry had found that most of the contracts awarded for mineral exploitation were not suspect. "The inquiry has established that they [the contracts] are sufficiently regular and in line with our legislation, or quite simply in their substance conforming to the norm," Luhonge said.

However, he said the conduct of certain officials and individuals involved in the contracts or in their signing had not been beyond reproach. He said only an in-depth judicial inquiry would be able to establish the extent of their responsibility.

Following the publication of the UN report, President Joseph Kabila suspended the head of the information department and government members mentioned in the report.

The attorney-general's investigators targeted centres for mineral exploitation and conducted exhaustive inquiries in Thsikapa in Occidental Province, Mbuji-Mayi in Kasai-Oriental Province and Lubumbashi in Katanga Province.

[ENDS]

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