European Union Delays Financial Support to Rwandan Military Amid Concerns Over Involvement in M23 Rebellion

On July 3, 2024, the European Union’s Africa Working Group (COAFR), a part of the European Council, convened to discuss various issues concerning Rwanda. One of the primary topics was Kigali’s request for continued financial support for its military operations in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. Despite the urgency of the request, the EU members could not reach a consensus on unlocking new financial aid for the Rwandan Defense Force (RDF).

Kigali sought an additional €20 million from the European Peace Facility (EPF) to support RDF units combating the jihadist insurgency in northern Mozambique. This request follows a previous disbursement of €20 million in 2023. The proposal was strongly backed by Portugal and France but met with significant resistance from several member states, including the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. These countries expressed concerns about granting further aid without accompanying conditions.

Critical to the opposition were allegations documented in the latest United Nations report, which highlighted the Rwandan regime’s support for the M23 rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The report detailed the presence of RDF elements aiding the rebels, bringing renewed scrutiny to Rwanda’s regional military engagements.

Historically more lenient towards Rwanda, the EU appears to be reassessing its stance. The COAFR, which requires unanimity to approve the €20 million aid package, decided to postpone the decision indefinitely. This delay suggests a growing recognition within the EU of the interconnectedness of the conflicts in Cabo Delgado and eastern DRC.

The EU members also agreed on the need to expand sanctions against Rwandan officials involved in the M23 conflict. Currently, only one RDF officer, Captain Jean-Pierre Niragire, also known as Gasasira, is sanctioned. He was added to the sanctions list in July 2023. However, the EU has yet to determine additional names for sanctions.

This development reflects the EU’s cautious approach towards Rwanda under President Paul Kagame, especially considering Rwanda’s controversial involvement in regional conflicts.