The U.S. government is cancelling a small military assistance package that was to have been provided to Rwanda this year, citing "information that Rwanda is supporting armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."
Late in June, the United Nations Security Council published a report by a group of UN experts saying they had found "substantial evidence" that Rwandan officials were backing groups in the eastern Congo, initially to facilitate the targeted assassinations of Rwandan rebels but later in support of mutinies within the Congolese army.
The UN experts said Rwanda's intervention included "the direct facilitation, through the use of Rwandan territory, of the creation of the M23 rebellion."
The M23 grouping is made up of former Congolese army soldiers, mostly ethnic Tutsis, who resumed fighting in April and named themselves after a failed peace accord that was agreed on March 23, 2009. Resulting conflict reportedly has uprooted at least 200,000 people in eastern Congo and threatens to engulf the city of Goma, on the Congolese-Rwandan border.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has vociferously denied the charges since the UN published its report. Earlier, a leaked version of the report was labeled "one-sided" and biased" by Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, and the U.S. government was accused of trying to delay its release.
Below is the full text of the State Department statement, which was emailed to AllAfrica by Hilary Fuller Renner, spokesperson for the Bureau of African Affairs:
"In light of information that Rwanda is supporting armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Department of State has decided it can no longer provide Foreign Military Financing (FMF) appropriated in the current fiscal year to Rwanda, considering a restriction imposed by the 2012 appropriation act.
"As a result, we will not obligate $200,000 in Fiscal Year 2012 FMF funds that were intended to support a Rwandan academy for non-commissioned officers. These funds will be reallocated for programming in another country. We will continue to provide assistance to Rwanda to enhance its capacity to support peacekeeping missions.
"The Department continues to assess whether other steps should be taken in response to Rwanda's actions with respect to the DRC.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.
"The United States has been actively engaged at the highest levels to urge Rwanda to halt and prevent the provision of such support, which threatens to undermine stability in the region.
"Restraint, dialogue, and respect for each other's sovereignty offer the best opportunity for Rwanda and the DRC, with the support of their partners, to resume the difficult work of bringing peace and security to the broader region.
"We are encouraged by the ongoing high-level dialogue among the states of the Great Lakes region, and we join the Security Council in taking note with interest of the communique issued by the eleven member states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on July 12.
"Developing a disciplined and unified army as part of a comprehensive security sector reform process remains critical to the stabilization of the DRC.
"We support efforts to bring to justice alleged human rights abusers among the mutineers, including Bosco Ntaganda, who is the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant.We are concerned by reports that the mutineers have forcibly recruited child soldiers."