Rwanda along with Australia, Argentina, South Korea and Luxembourg has won a seat on the UN Security Council, despite accusations by a UN expert panel that the Rwandan defence minister is commanding a rebellion in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Rwanda was unopposed in its bid for the African seat on the council that South Africa will vacate at the end of December, but still needed approval from two-thirds of the UN General Assembly members present to secure the two-year term by winning 148 votes.
A confidential UN report, seen by the Reuters news agency on Tuesday, had cast a shadow over Rwanda’s election to the 15-member Security Council, which has the ability to impose sanctions and authorise military interventions.
The latest report by the body’s Council’s Group of Experts provides more details of Rwanda’s alleged continued involvement.
It says M23 leaders “receive direct military orders” from Rwanda’s chief of defence staff, General Charles Kayonga, “who in turn acts on instructions from the minister of defence”, General James Kabarebe.
It also says Kigali has supplied the M23 with heavy weapons and stepped up recruitment for the group.
Both Rwandan and Ugandan officials have strongly denied the accusations made in the report.
‘Harbouring war criminals’
Before the vote, the DRC delegation told the General Assembly it objected to Rwanda joining the Security Council and accused it of harbouring “war criminals operating in the eastern part of the DRC and who are being sought by international justice”.
Louise Mushiki-Wabo, Rwandan foreign affairs minister, told Al Jazeera her country welcomed the General Assembly’s decision.
“We want as a country to move on and not deal with reports that have no value. … Member nations of the UN have spoken, so we as Rwanda are happy to move on,” she said.
Argentina also was elected on Thursday to the Security Council unopposed, winning 182 votes in the 193-nation General Assembly.
Australia and Luxembourg won over Finland to take the two seats available for the “Western European and Others” group.
South Korea beat Cambodia and Bhutan and secured the one Asia-Pacific seat.
The Security Council has five veto-holding permanent members of the council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – and 10 temporary members without vetoes.
Thursday’s election was for the term from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014.