President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, has maintained his stance that Rwanda is behind the M23 Rebels terrorizing DR Congo.
Reports from Kinshasa indicate that there are proofs that back their assertion that Kigali is backing the rebels in the eastern region of DR Congo.
However, the Paul Kagame-led government has denied the claims and rubbished reports linking the rebels to Kigali. Kinshasa says there is no credit in the denial and have reported Rwanda to international bodies for intervention.
In what would come as a surprise to Rwanda, the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has said he would immediately order a hold on its assistance to Rwanda for its role in the crisis in DR Congo.
The United State Committee says it believes that the Rwandan government is playing a role in fueling the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. The committee also claims that it is hugely concerned about the record of human rights violations by the Rwandan government, both in the past and in recent times.
In a letter to United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senator Robert Menendez, who moved the motion, called for a comprehensive review of American policy towards Rwanda.
Menendez said he would begin by placing a hold on several million dollars in support for Rwandan peacekeepers participating in U.N. missions, according to the letter, which was leaked to the media and which his office confirmed was authentic.
A hold is a Senate procedure that prevents a motion from reaching the floor for a vote.
Menendez said he feared that U.S. support for the Rwandan military, while it is deployed to DRC and reportedly backing rebels, would send “a troubling signal that the U.S. tacitly approves of such actions”.
You will recall that the M23 rebel group began a major offensive in DRC’s eastern borderlands with Rwanda at the end of March. Kinshasa has accused Kigali of backing M23, which the latter continues to deny.
In 2021, the U.S. allocated more than $147m in foreign assistance to Rwanda, making it Rwanda’s largest bilateral donor.
Menendez also cited what he said were credible accusations that the Rwandan government was muzzling critics at home and targeting dissidents living outside the country.
The U.S. State Department reviews its policies in response to events on the ground and would consult closely with Congress on the question of aid to Rwanda, department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday.
“We’ve said before that we’re concerned about the rising tensions between the DRC and Rwanda,” Price told a regular press briefing, urging both sides to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue.
A Rwandan government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES