At last Britain halts 21million in aid to Rwanda amid fears it is bankrolling military help for violent rebels in Congo
International Development Justine Greening announces she will not hand the money over next monthHer predecessor Andrew Mitchell reinstated aid in his last day in the job despite UN warningsOnly last month David Cameron defended giving aid to controversial Rwandan President Paul Kagame
01:12 GMT, 1 December 2012
International Development Secretary Justine Greening halted more aid going to Rwanda
Britain yesterday halted 21million in aid payments to Rwanda over human rights concerns.
The surprise move comes only a few weeks after David Cameron called the African country a ‘continuing success story’.
Announcing the policy U-turn, Justine Greening said there was ‘credible and compelling’ evidence that Rwanda was arming a violent revolt in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her predecessor as International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, had controversially resumed aid payments to Rwanda in September, saying it had ended its support for the so-called M23 rebels in the DRC.
The Commons international development committee said yesterday that Mr Mitchell’s decision was inexplicable, given the weight of evidence suggesting Rwandan president Paul Kagame has been backing the revolt for months.
A devastating report by the United Nations last month detailed Rwanda’s central role in a conflict that has left a trail of death and destruction in the eastern DRC and forced half a million people from their homes.
Miss Greening also announced that Britain will give an extra 18million to the DRC to help deal with the humanitarian crisis there.
The decision to suspend the aid programme is embarrassing for Mr Cameron, who has forged a friendship with Kagame and invited him to address the Conservative Party conference in 2007.
In October the Prime Minister mounted a robust defence of Mr Mitchell, telling MPs: ‘I am clear Rwanda has been, and continues to be, a success story of a country that has gone from genocide and disaster to being a role model for development and lifting people out of poverty.
‘I am proud of the fact the last Government, and this Government, have continued to invest in that success.’
'Invest in success': David Cameron shakes hands with President Kagame at a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2007
Britain suspended the last tranche of 16million of aid in July when the UN published its interim findings.
But Mr Mitchell, a personal friend of Kagame, reinstated the payments on his last day as International Development Secretary.
Justifying the decision he told Mr Cameron in a letter: ‘Reporting shows that [Rwanda’s] practical support to the M23 has now ended.’
Mr Mitchell denies acting as a ‘rogue minister’ and has stressed Rwanda’s good record of using aid money to help its people.
Conflict: A Congolese policeman attempts to stop people entering a base where UNICEF and International Medical Corps workers were handing out high nutrition cookies north of Goma in 2008
But in a report on his decision
yesterday MPs on the international development committee said: ‘We are
not privy to all the information and advice upon which he made this
assessment but, on the basis of the other evidence we received, we do
not understand how he reached the conclusion that support for the M23
In Opposition the Tories developed a close relationship with Kagame in an attempt to lose their ‘nasty party’ image.
Mr Mitchell, Mr Cameron and dozens of
Tory MPs travelled to the tiny east African country to carry out
voluntary work and display their caring credentials.
But human rights groups have become
increasingly concerned by the actions of the Kagame regime in recent
years – at home and abroad.
Kagame, who was re-elected in 2010
with 93 per cent of the vote, has been accused of suppressing political
opponents and journalists in Rwanda.
Since the start of the year the
country has also been accused of masterminding the M23 mutiny, which is
led by Bosco Ntaganda, a Congolese warlord and indicted war criminal.
Rwanda denies involvement in the conflict.
Kagame’s regime is heavily dependent
on foreign aid, which accounts for a third of its annual budget. Britain
is the country’s biggest foreign donor and this year alone is due to
The Prime Minister’s spokesman denied the decision to reinstate aid in September was a mistake.
‘We stand by the decision that we made
to release the last tranche of funding,’ he added. ‘This is our
approach to the aid budget. We keep decisions under review.’
Mr Cameron raised concerns with Kagame
when he spoke to him by telephone a few weeks ago, according to No 10.
David Mepham, UK director of Human Rights Watch, said the decision to
suspend aid to Rwanda was long overdue.
He said aid should not be reinstated
until Rwanda had shown it was prepared to honour agreements to respect
human rights, adding: ‘For years, these principles have been breached by
Rwanda without triggering any response from the UK Government.’
Robert Oxley of the TaxPayers’
Alliance said: ‘It’s appalling that British taxpayers’ money has gone
directly to a government involved in a proxy war that has brought untold
misery to hundreds of thousands of people.
‘This announcement leaves a huge question mark over why DfID, and specifically Andrew Mitchell, reinstated the aid programme.’
aid to Rwanda is ‘funding a dictator’ and worsening the misery of his
victims, a former senior aide to the African state’s president claimed
270million of aid earmarked for the country over the next three years
is ‘sustaining a bad regime’, said David Himbara, who was private
secretary to President Paul Kagame until two years ago.
regime is alleged to be funding and arming a bloody rebellion in the
neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a conflict marked by
the use of child soldiers and widespread rape and murder.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2238451/British-aid-Rwanda-funding-dictator-UK-millions-fuel-armed-conflict-says-presidents-aide.html#ixzz2DheJghAj
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook