The US State Department, through its spokeswoman Darby Holladay has decided to cut military aid to Rwanda.
In an statement sends by e-mail to new media, Darby Holladay said that the US Government “has decided it can no longer provide foreign military financing appropriated in the current fiscal year to Rwanda,” because of the deep concern “about the evidence that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including M23.”
M23 is a Congolese militia mainly composed of Rwandan backed ex-CNDP Tutsi ethnics integrated within the congolese army known as FARDC and who later mutineered. According to several sources, including the United Nations Panel of Experts in the DRC, The UN mission in DRC MONUSCO, the United States, Human Rights Watch, and several NGO, M23 is mostly armed, trained, reinforced and supported by the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) (see our articles: DRC: Rwandan Defense Forces’ March On Kinshasa Has Begun of July 8, 2012. and The US Government Officially Slams the Rwandan Government for Supporting Congolese Rebels of July 1, 2012).
A teacup in General Paul Kagame’s ocean of Wealth and Spending.
The cuts, estimated at US $200,000 for 2012 fiscal year will be sent to another country but the US Government will continue to fund the Rwandan participation in peacekeeping missions, according to the statement.
The amount of the cuts itself is very small. In fact, the President of Rwanda General Paul Kagame spends $20,000 a night on hotel rooms during his frequent trips to United States and Great Britain. Hence the amount corresponds to just 10 days room fees. Each of his trips costs approximately US$1 million, paid by the Rwandan Government as a rent of his private luxurious jet alone (he has two of them valued to more than $120 million, both rented out to the Rwandan Government). It is estimated that he makes at least 10 such such trips a year, without counting trips to Africa, Asia and other European countries. General Paul Kagame does not even bother to hide the extent of his wealth. While attending an event organized in New York City by the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the main aid organizations involved in helping the poor Rwandans, General Paul Kagame spent nights in $20,000 a night room hotel, while an average Rwandan earns only US$ 400.00 a year. His spending was so outrageous that the international media had to raise alarms. (see
A strong signal nevertheless.
The message is less in the dollar amount than in the symbol of the US Government’s decision. In fact the United States Government has always traded carefully when it came to condemning the Rwanda Government and Military. Even the UN Report about the findings on Rwandan support to M23 rebels was withheld for a few weeks under the US Government recommendation in order to give the Rwandan Government the opportunity to make its case. Apparently, the Rwandan Government failed to make the case.
At the same time, the US Government appears not to be ready to use the hammer against the Rwandan Government. Just a stick accompanied with loud warnings.
The decision was made during the visit to Rwanda by Former President Bill Clinton. Are the two related, is it a mixed signal or is it an interesting coincidence?
Another interesting fact is the last minute decision to squash the interview conducted by Erin Burnett of CNN with the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame. The interview was scheduled to air on CNN on Friday, July 20, 2012 at 7:00 PM ET. The official justification of the cancellation from CNN appears to be the need to report on the tragic events in Colorado. However, given that no further date was set for airing the interview, and that the cancelation happened as the US State Department was about to send out the statement on aid cuts, the connection between two appears easy to make.
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