Belgium Investigates DRC Minister

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(Rapaport…January 10, 2003) The United Nations (UN) reported that Belgian judicial authorities are investigating Alexis Thambwe Mwamba — a man the UN describes as the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) new minister of Planning and Reconstruction — for possible money laundering and illegal trafficking of diamonds and other resources.

The DRC’s ambassador to the UN, Atoki Ileka, said Mwamba is not a government minister, but a leader of the rebel group known as the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). The DRC has agreed to bring some rebels into the government under a new peace accord, but they have not been given any posts yet, Ileka said. He could not say if Mwamba was being considered for a position.

The DRC’s former minister of Planning and Reconstruction, Denis Kalume, was one of several government officials fired last fall after the UN reported that they were involved in illegal trafficking. “For the time being, we have no minister of Planning and Reconstruction,” Ileka said.

According to the UN, Mwamba allegedly trafficked illegally in diamonds, gold and coltan, a mineral used to manufacture electronics. Ileka said a UN report contains “some clear evidence” that Mwamba was involved in illegal resource trafficking.

Patrick Herman, a spokesman for the Belgian Foreign Ministry, confirmed that authorities are investigating “a number of instances of illegal resource trading in the Democratic Republic of Congo” but could not say that Mwamba is among the targets. Belgian Ministry of Justice officials could not be reached.

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