Africa

Rwanda loses German aid over DRC unrest

AFP

Germany has suspended millions of euros in aid to Rwanda over allegations that the country is backing rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. (AFP)

Development Minister Dirk Niebel said on Saturday that Germany was putting on ice some €21-million in aid for Kigali planned from this year until 2015 in what he said was an "unmistakable signal to the Rwandan government".

A United Nations panel said in June that Rwanda was supplying the M23 rebels, a group of Tutsi ex-rebels who have become engaged in running battles with the regular army in the volatile eastern region of Nord-Kivu.

The United States has also suspended aid in the wake of the accusations, as have the United Kingdom and The Netherlands. Rwanda denies the claims, however.

"Rwanda has not used the time to address the serious allegations," Niebel said in a statement.

"It must be clear that Rwanda is not supporting illegal militias in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo," Niebel demanded, calling for "complete cooperation" with the United Nations.

Last Sunday, Washington announced it was suspending military aid to Rwanda because of "deep concerns" over evidence it was supporting the rebels.

And on Friday, The Hague said it was halting some five million euros of aid aimed at improving the Rwandan justice system.

In response, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo deplored the "hasty decisions based on flimsy evidence" and repeated Kigali's denial of support to DRC rebels.

Earlier this month, DRC President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed to deploy a joint task force to neutralise the M23 rebels.

The UN refugee agency has urged the protection of civilians in eastern DRC amid reports of indiscriminate and summary killings of civilians, rape and torture.

In November 2011, Germany pledged some €20-million annually in aid to Rwanda for a three-year period. –AFP

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