US Military Aid for Rwanda Cut following Concerns over Rwandan Support of Congo Rebels
August 1, 2012
The Fresh Outlook
The US is retreating from years of solid, public support of Rwandan president Paul Kagame by its cutting military aid.
The US announced it is withdrawing $200,000 in military assistance. The US has been particularly concerned about accusations of continued Rwandan support of the DRC rebels. The shift in public support suggests that Washington’s concern about the continued bloodletting in the Democratic Republic of Congo now outweighs any lingering western guilt over the 1994 Rwandan genocide that took place between the Tutsi and Hutu peoples.
The Rwandan government has hit back at the latest accusations regarding the DRC rebels by claiming that a detailed United Nations report, prompting the US, Britain and other UN countries to reduce their aid last week, was an attempt to “cast Rwanda as the villain”.
The Rwandan foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, refuted the findings of the report, stating: “It is regrettable that a decision like that would be based on a report that is not even final, a report that is flawed.” When asked as to whether she feels that international relations between Rwanda and the US have been damaged, she replied: “I don’t think so.”
Washington, however, has publicly endorsed the findings of the report. The US state department broke its history of limiting criticism to private communications by publicly voicing that: “We have deep concerns about Rwanda’s support to the Congolese rebel group that goes by the name M23.” This was echoed by Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, who said that Washington acted in the face of what is regarded as irrefutable evidence: “At no point in the last 18 years has the United States or Rwanda’s other allies responded as strongly to evidence of wrongdoing by the Kagame government.”
Britain, Rwanda’s single largest bilateral donor has followed the US and announced plans to place an embargo over the latest batch of aid payments, reported to be worth £16,000,000.
By Ross Jones
[Image courtesy of kynan tait]