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January 27, 2000

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Noting that the United States has helped to build the arsenals of eight of the nine countries involved in what has become known as Africa's first World War, while at the same time cutting its own development assistance to Africa, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney promises more Congressional oversight of U.S. military contacts with Africa. "It is totally unacceptable that the United States can maintain covert military relationships with groups, militaries, factions, individuals and then have those relationships used to wreak havoc across the impoverished African landscape. The United States and its allies should be exemplars of transparency, democracy, respect for human rights, and sustainable development. Instead, in the case of the war in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), U.S. allies have invaded a sovereign territory and are committing heinous acts such as the recent reports of the burial alive of fifteen Congolese women, " stated Congresswoman McKinney.

McKinney, the ranking member of the Human Rights and International Operations subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, attended the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, at the invitation of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke.

Democratic Republic of Congo President Laurent Kabila addressed the United Nations Security Council, telling officials that neighboring rebels have violated the international accord in invading his country. In his first trip to the United States and in his first address before the United Nations, President Kabila stated that he is a man of peace, but that his country has been under siege by invading forces bent on destroying his country. He also noted that peace in the region requires peace in the aggressor countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Unfortunately, this is not being addressed by the international community as one of the root causes of the current war engulfing much of the Heart of Africa.

Kabila was joined by six other current African Heads of State who all called for immediate deployment of United Nations peacekeepers to the DRC. Eloquently speaking of the additional pain and suffering caused to his people by United Nations delays in implementing its peacekeeping operation force in Mozambique, President Chissano noted that the United Nations now has a chance to reinforce its credibility. President Chiluba of Zambia, architect of the DRC peace proposal pleaded for resources from the international community to make the signed peace agreement work.

"We now know that the Clinton Administration actively worked to prevent anyone from responding to pleas from United Nations forces on the ground in Rwanda to prevent or contain the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Clinton Administration now has the blood of one million dead on its hands. If the United States now fails the region a second time by inaction to end the resultant war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Clinton Administration will continue to have the blood of millions of Africans of the Great Lakes Region on its hands and will directly have contributed to the pain and suffering of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons who now live in camps and roam the region's jungles. The United States must stop dealing with the symptoms and deal with the root cause of the conflicts in the Great Lakes region. The DRC conflict springs directly from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Democracy, transparency, and respect for human rights must be on the table for all of the countries in the region," continued Congresswoman McKinney.

Reacting to the recently released report by William Hartung and the World Policy Institute entitled, "Deadly Legacy: U.S. Arms to Africa and the Congo War," Congresswoman McKinney noted, "The United States ranks first in the world for military assistance and dead last among developed countries for nonmilitary foreign assistance. We policy makers must change that. And our role in Africa's first World War should be as honest broker for peace. I believe that Richard Holbrooke has 'the right stuff' to make a difference on behalf of the United States and the distressed people of Africa's Great Lakes Region. The question is does the Clinton Administration have the will to make the difference."

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