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Kinshasa urges UN to investigate remarks by peacekeeper

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XINHUA - July 18, 2008

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is diligently awaiting the findings of an investigation initiated by the United Nations Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) over certain remarks made by a senior peacekeeping officer.
KINSHASA, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is diligently awaiting the findings of an investigation initiated by the United Nations Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) over certain remarks made by a senior peacekeeping officer.

    "We are awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the remarks which were made recently by a senior officer from the Indian contingent in the mission in a town in the restive North Kivu province, eastern DR Congo," the government said in a statement issued Thursday.

    According to Jean-Marie Labila Etong Epetsa, general delegate in charge of relations between the government and MONUC, Sahoha Chand, an Indian colonel, had indeed made the controversial remarks that is currently the subject of a United Nations investigation.

    The colonel, who was speaking during a farewell ceremony organized in his honor near Kitchange, Northeastern Kivu, confessed to have had personal dealings with dissident Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda and described him as a "brother" who was "fighting for a noble cause."

    According to the DR Congo government, which has raised the "strongest" objection to these remarks, said this attitude is reflection of "duplicity" in a senior MONUC officer, who once held strategic positions in the organization of defense operations led by the DR Congo Armed Forces (FARDC).

    This, according to the statement, was particularly the case around the area of Sake, North-Kivu province, where government troops had engaged Nkunda's fighters in bloody clashes.

    The MONUC colonel confessed that "he was thinking in the same line with the very people who are involved in disturbing the peace and destabilizing the DR Congo," said Labila, who called on the UNto investigate the matter conclusively so as to regain the trust of the populations.

    While welcoming the official position of the UN Mission in DR Congo, which has already denounced the remarks and said that Col. Saroha solely bore responsibility of the seriousness of the mentioned facts, Labila wondered what the mission would do in the wake of the revelation.

    "If the officer had Indian followers, then in such a case MONUC should take the necessary steps and rid the mission of elements of this ilk," said the government liaison officer.

    At a time when everything is being done to consolidate e peace in eastern DR Congo, the government decries the attitude of Saroha Chand and any other conduct likely to undermine efforts undertaken to pacify the country, said Labila.

    "The government will no entertain any acts or remarks that are likely to interfere with implementation of the Amani program for the final pacification of the DR Congo in general and the Kivu region in particular," said Labila, who was addressing a press briefing.


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