Rwanda warns against cutting aid over Congo rebels

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2012 3:54 PM
Rwanda warns against cutting aid over Congo rebels

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rwanda's foreign minister warned on Thursday that it would be "the biggest mistake" for any countries to withdraw aid for Kigali over a U.N. report accusing Rwanda's defense minister of commanding rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United States, Sweden and the Netherlands have all suspended some aid to Rwanda, which relies on donors for about 40 percent of its budget. Last month the European Union froze further budgetary support to Rwanda.

However, Britain unblocked part of its cash in September, praising Rwanda for constructively pursuing peace.

"It would be the biggest mistake that any donor country could make for Rwanda," Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told Reuters at the United Nations, shortly after Rwanda had won a seat on the U.N. Security Council. "Rwanda is deserving of aid."

"I think Britain has made the right choice," she said.

A confidential report by the Security Council's "Group of Experts," seen by Reuters on Tuesday, said that Rwanda and Uganda - despite their strong denials - continued to support so-called M23 rebels with arms and troops in their six-month fight against Congolese troops in the east of the country.

The Congolese government on Wednesday demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the U.N. experts report.

Mushikiwabo dismissed the idea that any action should be taken on the basis of a report that she said was flawed and untrue.

"It's wrong. This report is very problematic so anybody who would want to take action based on that report would be really unfortunate," Mushikiwabo told Reuters.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau)