Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 6 News List

UN report says Zimbabwe may have got PRC arms via DR Congo, Sudan

AFP , UNITED NATIONS

UN experts have “credible information” that Zimbabwe may have received Chinese arms last year via Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), a recently published report said.

The UN Security Council report cites four Boeing aircraft flights that took place between Kinshasa, Harare and Lubumbashi and “transported a total of 53 tonnes of ammunition destined to the Zimbabwean army” between Aug. 20 and Aug. 22 this year.

“While this is not a violation of the arms embargo, it is an indication that the Democratic Republic of the Congo could become a transit point for weapons destined for other countries,” it said.

In March, the Security Council extended an arms embargo until Dec. 31 targeting the many armed militias operating in eastern DR Congo, but not the government’s armed forces, the FARDC.

The measure, Resolution 1807, stipulates the FARDC can receive military equipment as long as the exporting country informs the council’s sanctions committee ahead of time.

But the group of experts on the DR Congo said they “obtained information regarding military supplies flown to FARDC from Khartoum without notification to the sanctions committee.”

The group also “received credible information that the weapons originated in China” and has written to the Chinese government.

“As the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not produce weapons or ammunition, this stock would have been imported to the [DR Congo] without notification and then possibly exported in violation of the original end-user agreement with the original exporter,” said the report, which was published on Dec. 12.

Beijing has been investing heavily in DR Congo in recent years.

It lent the African country an estimated US$9 billion in May to restore its infrastructure and revive the mining industry, following a US$35 million investment into the Congolese postal service last January.

Fighting since Aug. 28 between Congolese rebels and the Kinshasa government has displaced more than 250,000 people in DR Congo’s eastern Nord-Kivu Province.

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