Rwanda now in do-die fighting corner as Britain freezes aid over Congo supportBy Joseph Kabera
Real pressure is pounding on Rwanda and now finds herself in a ‘do-die’ fighting ring corner as its major donor join in a rely race to freeze budget aid over DR Congo conflict it willingly plugged herself into.
The worst of this like in the fight of two giant elephants, the grass (innocent Rwandan) is suffering at the expense of silly mistakes and selfish ends by its leaders led by dictator Paul Kagame.
Rwanda is now under increasing pressure to halt alleged support for east Congo’s latest rebellion, with the Netherlands suspending some aid and Britain delaying a payment for budgetary support. The actions of Netherlands and Britain came after the United States last week cut $200,000 (£127,000) in planned military aid. Like in waking up powerful lions to live up to their obligation of a free world, the major donors have lined up their knives to cut and so they must and Rwanda must turn the other ear or risk total isolation of the world powers.
The Financial Times quoted a Swedish aid official saying Scandinavian countries on the board of the African Development Bank also forced the delay of a decision on the disbursal of $38.9m (£24m) in budget aid to Rwanda from last week until September.
The pressure comes as a group of UN experts who made the allegations in a damning report was visiting Rwanda. Their report published last month accused Rwanda of helping create, arm and support the M23 rebel movement in east Congo in violation of UN sanctions.
The uprising has brought the worst violence in years to that volatile country. It has forced more than 260,000 people from their homes in the past three months. And it is draining the resources of an already overstretched $1.5bn (£900m) a year UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. The UN report also said some Rwandan soldiers were fighting alongside the rebels against Congo’s army. Dutch Development Ministry spokeswoman Saskia Gaster said the country is “reconsidering” its aid program while awaiting Rwanda’s response to the allegations. “Our position – in consultation with EU partners – will be based on both an assessment of Rwanda’s official reaction to the report and the developments in the field, including an immediate end to support to rebels in DRC from Rwandan territory,” she told The Associated Press.
While the amounts involved are small, the actions are considered a major rebuke of Rwanda, a darling of Western donors dependent on aid for nearly half its budget.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has avoided sanctions despite numerous past transgressions of standards supposedly required in exchange for Western aid. His government has consistently suppressed all opposition at home, including closure of all critical newspapers, deporting of critical journalists to their former refugee countries, issued stringent media laws and imprisoned almost all critical journalists still in the country or several or them been forced to flee their country. Rwanda continue to deny clear charges that it sends hit squads to assassinate opponents abroad, though Britain’s Scotland Yard has warned several Rwandans living in exile there that Rwanda’s government has been plotting to kill them. Western donors demanded no sanctions after the publication last year of a long-delayed UN report accusing Kagame’s army of a possible genocide of Congolese and Rwandan Hutu people after they invaded Congo in 1994.
British aid to Rwanda, set at 80 million pounds ($125.5 million) this year, is considered to have played a major role in helping the one million Rwandan who have lifted out of poverty in the past five years – the fastest ever rate of poverty reduction ever achieved in Africa.