News24

Kigali 'has no hand in DRC instability'

2012-07-23 13:01

Kigali - The United States' decision to suspend military aid to Rwanda because of concerns over evidence it is supporting a mutiny in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo is based on incorrect information, Kigali said on Sunday.

"While we respect the rights of any development partner, at the same time we must make clear to our friends in Washington and elsewhere that this decision is based on bad information, and is wrong on the facts," Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told AFP.

"As we have made clear from the outset, Rwanda is neither the cause nor the enabler of instability in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo," she said.

State Department spokesperson Darby Holladay said Washington "has decided it can no longer provide foreign military financing appropriated in the current fiscal year to Rwanda."

"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," Holladay said in a statement emailed to AFP.

The M23 are Tutsi ex-rebels from the Rwanda-backed National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).

They were integrated into the regular army in 2009 as part of a peace deal but they mutinied in April, demanding better pay and the full implementation of the 23 March, 2009 peace deal for which they are named. They have been engaged in running battles with the regular army in the eastern North Kivu region.

Group's findings

Kinshasa accuses Kigali of sponsoring the rebellion - a complaint supported by a UN panel which said in June that Rwanda was supplying the rebels. Rwanda has denied the charges.

Holladay said the United States had been actively engaged at the highest levels to urge Rwanda to halt its support for the M23, which "threatens to undermine stability in the region".

Mushikiwabo said Rwandan officials will meet with the UN panel in Kigali later this week to discuss the group's findings on the conflict in eastern DRC.

"We will go through each allegation contained in the interim report and debunk them line by line. We will present our rebuttal to our development partners, including the United States," Mushikiwabo said.

In the meantime, she said, Kigali will work with regional partners to implement a new initiative to patrol the Rwanda-DRC border.

"Peace in the eastern DRC is the outcome desired by all parties, none more so than Rwanda," she said.