Kigali has questions to answer – Britain

The British government has accused President Paul Kagame’s government of fueling violence in Congo and endorsed a UN report- linking Rwanda to a bloody regional conflict that has so far left over 260,000 people displaced and others dead.

A senior government official also told Sunday Monitor on Wednesday that this year, Britain would not release an estimated £16 million (Shs56 billion) in aid for Rwanda, adding that “UK is taking the UN report seriously and “Rwanda government must explain what is going on.”

“Rwanda has questions to answer,” a government official said. “We (British government) understand (s) that there is a UN report and it’s very clear on who is behind the conflict in Congo. Our position is that whoever is involved must work to promote peace not conflicts.”

The UN Group of Experts (GoE) on the Congo report accuses President Kagame of funding and arming the rebel group M23 in violation of UN sanctions. This rebel group is led by renegade Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes.

M23 rebels have, over the last two months, seized parts of eastern DRC- creating a refugee crisis in the region. Ntaganda had been a Tutsi rebel warlord operating in eastern DRC until 2009 when he was integrated into the Congolese army as part of an undisclosed peace deal.

This high-ranking official in British government said the British government and other development partners are closely following the developments in Congo. The US has suspended £127,198 (about Shs445m) in military aid to Rwanda over the allegations.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Kampala this week to meet President Museveni over regional security, including DR Congo and Somalia. The two held closed door meetings.

Kagame denies allegations

But President Kagame has reacted furiously and blamed the conflict in Congo on the international community. Rwanda also dismissed UN claims that the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) trained and provided rebel commanders with 75mm canons and other ammunitions.

Britain is the latest country to blame Rwanda for the mutiny in DR Congo, that has seen M23 rebel group taking up arms to fight the elected government in Kinshasa over an alleged breach of a deal that had been signed between the DRC government and another political armed militia— the National Congress for the Defence of the People.

During the inauguration of a military college last week, President Kagame said the ongoing problems in DRC were a creation of the international community, and not Rwanda. “Rwanda has not supplied one bullet to DRC conflict if we had I would say we did because we would have done it with a reason,” he said.

Rwanda’s Foreign Office said the UN report on Congo conflict was hypocritical, adding that it was intended to make Rwanda a scapegoat for its neighbour’s problems. Earlier, Mr Kagame complained at a public function in Kigali that although the money donors withheld was insignificant, the allegations were damaging his reputation.

Meanwhile, although RDC President Joseph Kabila said he questioned Uganda over allegations that Kampala was also aiding rebels fighting his government, and that he also sent an envoy to Kampala to rally diplomatic support, Britain remains silent on Uganda’s fate. Uganda government however, denies reports that it is also supporting the rebels.

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