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Congo slams US AGOA decision

Published date:
Saturday, 25 December 2010

The Democratic Republic of Congo has criticized a US decision to remove the country form a program allowing African countries to export products to the United States.

The White House on Tuesday took Congo from the program of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The program is supposedly designed to promote "democracy and prosperity" in Africa's poorest countries, giving the countries greater access to the US market 'as long as they make democratic advances.'

As of January 2011, Congo will lose its partnership status in the United States.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende described the move as totally unjustified.

"The US justifications to exclude DR Congo from AGOA were false because the country's armed forces are not accomplices of the armed groups that commit violations against the civilian populations," he told reporters in the capital city of Kinshasa.

Washington accuses Congolese security forces and other armed groups of constant human rights violations, including large scale rapes.

The UN estimates that 15,000 women were raped in eastern DR Congo last year.

Mende went on to describe New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) as "a manipulative organization."

"When we read the report from Human Rights Watch, we do not see any evidence to show that DR Congo's Armed Forces recruited children into the army," he said.

"This is why we are still saying that they are just manipulators," Mende added.

A recent HRW report indicated that minor from schools had been recruited into the Army in Congo's North Kivu province.

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