Saturday, October 20, 2012

Britain faces pressure to stop its aid to Rwanda

By Jason Lewis
Telegraph, London
October 8, 2012
 
 
Accused of arming forces in Congo ... Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Accused of arming forces in Congo ... Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Photo: Reuters
 
LONDON: Britain is under mounting international pressure to stop all aid to the Rwandan government.
 
The United Nations and the European Union want Britain to withhold millions of pounds it is due to hand to Paul Kagame's government as part of an international campaign to choke his regime of funds.
 
Rwanda is accused of arming rebels responsible for atrocities, including mass rape, in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
 
It is hoped that Britain will fall in line after the Prime Minister, David Cameron, replaced Andrew Mitchell as International Development Secretary in his Cabinet reshuffle last month.
Britain initially agreed to go along with international condemnation of Rwandan involvement and to cancel £83 million ($A131.4 million) it gives it in aid each year. But Mr Mitchell's last act in the job, before he was moved to the role of Chief Whip, had been to restore about £8 million of aid to the regime, with another £8 million to follow later this year, apparently against the advice of officials in his department and from the Foreign Office.
 
He based the decision on personal assurances from the Rwandan President and on his own experiences running a small Conservative ''charity'' project in the country.
 
Officials were told his personal experience with Project Umubano outweighed evidence from a group of experts from the UN, Human Rights Watch observers and Foreign Office officials.
The UN and EU privately expressed their ''disappointment'' with Mr Mitchell's decision at a contact group meeting at the Foreign Office last month. A source at the meeting said there were ''obvious differences'' between Foreign Office officials and ''between different officials in the Department for International Development''.
 
Mr Mitchell apparently also ignored police intelligence reports that suggest Rwandan dissidents living in exile in Britain are being threatened by the regime. The UN and Europe have accused Mr Kagame of giving support and weapons to the 23 March Movement, or M23, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, accusing it of attacking civilians and ''acts of sexual violence''.
 
At a meeting at the UN in New York last week, the EU accused Rwanda of backing M23 rebels. Mr Kagame and senior regime figures may now face sanctions over their links to the group.
 
Two confidential reports on Rwanda's involvement with the M23 rebels were presented to Security Council officials last week and are likely to lead to further action being taken against the regime at the UN in the next few weeks. Britain is Rwanda's largest aid contributor and a UN source said its involvement in putting pressure on Mr Kagame was ''vitally important''.
 
Internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose that in a telephone conversation in February last year, Mr Mitchell had promised the Rwandan President Britain would increase its aid from £60 million to £90 million by 2015.
 
But the memos also disclose doubts within the department about the ''political risk'' in Rwanda.

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/britain-faces-pressure-to-stop-its-aid-to-rwanda-20121007-2778a.html#ixzz29roswQuF

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home