Rwanda aid suspended over Congo war

Sweden joined the Netherlands this week in suspending new aid payments to Rwanda after a UN report accused the central African country of supporting guerillas in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. President Paul Kagame responded: “The people of Rwanda should be ready to survive in any circumstance including the absence of aid.” He also denied the report’s charges that his government supports Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. “I have never spoken to Nkunda. I have never met him by the way. I don’t know him other than seeing him on television,” said Kagame, calling the report “petty, simplistic and utterly nonsensical”.

Among those named by the UN as involved in support to Nkunda’s rebel army is Tribert Rujugiro, an adviser to Kagame. The report reproduced an e-mail in which Rujugiro thanks someone in Dubai for arranging payment of $120,000 for the “soldiers” of “our friend Laurent.”

“If he did get involved in Congo, he did it in his individual capacity, not in his capacity as my adviser on public/private partnerships,” said Kagame. “Rujugiro is a businessman who does business in Rwanda, South Africa and Kinshasa as an individual, not as an adviser.” (Reuters, Dec. 17)

The report comes as former Rwandan military officer Col. Theoneste Bagosora, charged with being a mastermind of the 1994 genocide, was convicted by the UN tribunal in Tanzania and sentenced to life in prison. Bagosora and three other senior army officers had been on trial since 2002 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Maj. Aloys Ntabakuze and Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva were also sentenced to life imprisonment for “genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.” A fourth co-defendant, Gen. Gratien Kabiligi, was acquitted of all charges and released by the court. (IHT, Dec. 19)

Rwanda’s Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama protested Kabiligi’s acquittal, saying: “Everybody knows Kabiligi as one of the chief architects of the genocide, it is a surprise that he has been acquitted, we are totally disappointed.” (New Times, Rwanda, Dec. 19)

See our last post on the politics of Central Africa.

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