UK hints at axing aid to Rwanda over links with Congolese rebels

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Britain will take into account Rwanda’s backing for rebels accused of killing and raping in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in future decisions to provide aid to the central African state.

In a joint statement, Foreign Secretary William Hague and International Development Secretary Justine Greening described evidence presented by a panel of UN experts of Rwanda’s involvement with the M23 rebels as “credible and compelling”.

The move follows a controversial decision by Ms Greening’s predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, on his final day in the post to sanction a further £16m aid payment to Rwanda at a time when other European donors were suspending aid.

In their statement, Mr Hague and Ms Greening said all outside support for the M23 – who have now seized control of the key Congolese city of Goma – was “unacceptable” and “damaging to the security of the region” as well as breaching UN Security Council resolutions.

“We judge the overall body of evidence of Rwandan involvement with M23 in the DRC to be credible and compelling,” they said.

“We will be studying the implications of this report in full, but these allegations will necessarily be a key factor in future aid decisions to the government of Rwanda.

“The UK is greatly concerned about the escalating situation in eastern DRC and the plight of its civilian population.”

Mr Mitchell, who was international development secretary until David Cameron’s Cabinet reshuffle in September, was widely criticised for his decision to resume aid to Rwanda after it was suspended earlier in the year over concerns about its activities in the DRC.