World Bulletin/News Desk
The U.S. government said Saturday it will cut military aid to Rwanda for this year, citing evidence Kigali is supporting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a significant step by one of Rwanda's staunchest allies.
Rwanda has denied reports by United Nations experts and rights groups that it is backing eastern Congolese rebels, including the M23 group, which has seized parts of North Kivu province in fighting that has displaced over 260,000 people since April.
The U.S. State Department cited evidence of Rwandan support for the rebels in announcing the military aid suspension.
"The United States government is deeply concerned about the evidence that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including M23," said Hilary Fuller Renner, a State Department spokeswoman, in an emailed statement.
"We will not obligate $200,000 in Fiscal Year 2012 Foreign Military Financing funds that were intended to support a Rwandan academy for non-commissioned officers. These funds will be reallocated for programming in another country," she said.
Washington has stood by Rwanda in the past despite the tiny nation's long history of involvement in wars in vast neighbouring Congo.
Rwanda's foreign minister has previously said reports of its involvement in Congo fighting were "disingenuous" and a bid to make Rwanda a scapegoat for its neighbour's problems. Officials in Kigali were not immediately available for comment on the U.S. aid cut.
Renner said Washington was in the process of assessing whether further steps should be taken in response to Rwanda's actions in Congo.
She said the United States would continue to help Rwanda support peacekeeping missions. Rwanda has a major peacekeeping presence in Sudan's Darfur region.
Although the amount of cash being withheld is small, analysts said the move clearly signalled Washington's displeasure.
"The U.S. government has been a longstanding ally of the Rwandan government. This step, even if symbolic, is emblematic of a shift in perception - if not necessarily in aid - in Washington," said independent Congo expert Jason Stearns.
Rwanda sent its army into Congo, then called Zaire, in the mid 1990s, ostensibly to hunt down Rwandan Hutu rebels who fled there after the 1994 genocide.
A decade of conflict followed, in which Rwandan forces helped Congolese rebels topple the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. They then fell out with the rebels they initially backed, sparking a war that sucked in other neighbouring armies and officially ended in 2003.
The current rebellion comes after three years of generally improved relations between Kinshasa and Kigali since the latter helped end a 2004-9 eastern Congolese uprising, which Rwanda was also accused of backing.
The leaders of Congo and Rwanda agreed at a meeting this month to allow a neutral force to be deployed in Congo to defeat each others' rebels, but the plan's details have not been announced yet.
Ethiopia election comes to an end; vote counting starts across the country's regions.
E.U. made the request to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in order to monitor the movement of boats transferring illegal migrants
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential election to conservative challenger Andrzej Duda.
Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez said he is beginning a hunger strike and called for a mass anti-government protest
Nobel-winning Mathematician John Nash who inspired "A Beautiful Mind" killed in auto accident
Abu Marzouq succeeded Mohamed Nasr, who was responsible for the file before
Ash Carter said that Iraqi forces lacked will to fight ISIL, if they need to change the kinds of support they will give.
An oil official said the ship was actually a tanker which had been carrying 25,000 tonnes of gasoil.
Authorities in Cleveland say protesters became more “aggressive” throughout the day after a judge acquitted officer on charges in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
It complained of not getting any assistance from UNHCR or others
Italy coast guard rescues 70 Afghan, Iraqi migrants from crowded boat
Burundi opposition to suspend dialogue with the government after politician's killing
Egypt's official news agency has reported that the Rafah crossing will be opened in the direction of Egypt-to-Gaza only on Tuesday and Wednesday
UN chief condemned the killing by unidentified gunmen late on Saturday of Zedi Feruzi, the head of the UPD party.
The plan would include a "constitutional amendment" which would allow the rival Tobruk-based parliament to take part in overseeing the work of a possible national consensus government.
"If elected, we will work hard to improve this and work to build the capacity of the youth," Ethiopia PM said.