US cuts military aid to Rwanda

2012-07-22 14:19
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Dakar - The United States said on Saturday it would cut military aid to Rwanda for this year because of evidence by UN experts that Kigali was supporting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The US decision was widely seen as a significant shift in policy because Washington has stood by Rwanda in the past despite the tiny nation's long history of involvement in wars in vast neighbouring Congo.

In response, Rwanda said that next week it would debunk "line by line" the UN experts' report, which said Kigali was backing eastern Congolese rebels, including the M23 group that has seized parts of North Kivu province where 260 000 have been displaced by clashes since April.

"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," Hilary Fuller Renner, a US State Department spokeswoman, said in a 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.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told Reuters: "Rwanda is (meeting) with the (UN's Group of Experts) next week to go through each allegation in the interim report and debunk them line by line.

"We will present this to partners, including (the) US, while focusing on joint verification process (with Congo) and new border patrol plan," she said, referring to steps being taken to defuse tensions.

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 1994 genocide.

Read more on:    drc  |  rwanda  |  central africa
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