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Great Lakes: Kampala, Kigali refute Amnesty arms traffic report

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KIGALI, 7 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - The governments of Rwanda and Uganda have denied a recent report by the human rights NGO Amnesty International that they are involved in trafficking arms to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"It is absurd that these reports continue to surface without our part of the story and we disagree with the contents," Protais Mitali, Rwanda's regional cooperation minister, said on Wednesday in Kigali.

He said the report "lacked factual evidence".

In releasing the report on Tuesday, Amnesty's research manager for arms and security trade, Brian Wood, said: "International arms flows into the region have been channelled by powerful agents close to the governments of the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda to various armed groups and militia in eastern DRC who practise banditry and show little or no respect for human rights."

It also named Russian arms dealer Victor Bout in the traffic and said other brokers and transporters from various countries, were playing a role. It named Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Israel, Serbia, South Africa, the UK and USA.

Amnesty said the trafficking was taking place despite a 2002 UN arms embargo. Amnesty laid out specific incidents of how, it said, the governments of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC were breaching the embargo.

However, Uganda's information minister, Nsaba Buturo, said in Kampala the charge was untrue.

"It does not help to make blanket statements," Buturo, said. "We believe that long term stability cannot be attained through arms proliferation."

[ENDS]

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