(Reuters) – The U.S. government said Saturday it will cut military aid to Rwanda for this year, citing evidence Kigali is supporting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a significant step by one of Rwanda’s staunchest allies.
The U.S. State Department cited evidence of Rwandan support for the rebels in announcing the military aid suspension.
« The United States government is deeply concerned about the evidence
that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese
rebel groups, including M23, » said Hilary Fuller Renner, a State
Department spokeswoman, in an emailed statement.
« We will not obligate $200,000 in Fiscal Year 2012 Foreign Military
Financing funds that were intended to support a Rwandan academy for
non-commissioned officers. These funds will be reallocated for
programming in another country, » she said.
Washington has stood by Rwanda in the past despite the tiny nation’s
long history of involvement in wars in vast neighboring Congo.
Rwanda’s foreign minister has previously said reports of its
involvement in Congo fighting were « disingenuous » and a bid to make
Rwanda a scapegoat for its neighbor’s problems. Officials in Kigali were
not immediately available for comment on the U.S. aid cut.
Renner said Washington was in the process of assessing whether
further steps should be taken in response to Rwanda’s actions in Congo.
She said the United States would continue to help Rwanda support
peacekeeping missions. Rwanda has a major peacekeeping presence in
Sudan’s Darfur region.
Although the amount of cash being withheld is small, analysts said the move clearly signaled Washington’s displeasure.
« The U.S. government has been a longstanding ally of the Rwandan
government. This step, even if symbolic, is emblematic of a shift in
perception – if not necessarily in aid – in Washington, » said
independent Congo expert Jason Stearns.
Rwanda sent its army into Congo, then called Zaire, in the mid 1990s,
ostensibly to hunt down Rwandan Hutu rebels who fled there after the
A decade of conflict followed, in which Rwandan forces helped
Congolese rebels topple the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. They then fell
out with the rebels they initially backed, sparking a war that sucked in
other neighboring armies and officially ended in 2003.
The current rebellion comes after three years of generally improved
relations between Kinshasa and Kigali since the latter helped end a
2004-9 eastern Congolese uprising, which Rwanda was also accused of
The leaders of Congo and Rwanda agreed at a meeting this month to
allow a neutral force to be deployed in Congo to defeat each others’
rebels, but the plan’s details have not been announced yet.
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch
Welcome to Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library