UK likely to cancel aid to Rwanda amid claims its rulers were linked to militias accused of rape and murder

  • @NigelpMorris

Ministers are likely to cancel plans to give more public money to Rwanda amid claims that its rulers were linked to militias accused of rape and murder, Whitehall sources have said.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, told MPs she would think “very carefully” before approving more “general budget support”– cash paid direct to the African nation’s government.

Her predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, signed off on the payment of £16m of frozen aid on his last day in the post in September, although he instructed that half should go to specific projects.

Britain had initially suspended its planned £37m “general budget support” in June after a United Nations report said President Paul Kagame’s administration was sponsoring violent rebels in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

His decision was highly controversial, sparking accusations by Labour that Mr Mitchell was motivated by his friendship with President Kagame.

Ms Greening now has to decide whether to approve the payment of a further £21m of aid due at the end of next month.

The signs are growing that she would veto the second handover of cash.

One senior Whitehall source told The Independent: “I suspect she won’t make the payment.”

A second source said: “She is going to have a really detailed, critical look at this.”

Ms Greening told the Commons international development select committee that Mr Mitchell’s decision had been taken in a “sound and robust manner”.

But she added that continuing support for Rwanda would depend on its ability to prove it was not fuelling conflict in the region.

She said reports linking the Kigame government to the DRC militias were “very disturbing” and said her decision on whether to approve aid would partly depend on whether it would condemn atrocities by the militias, which Rwanda has so far failed to do.

Britain and Rwanda have signed a memorandum of understanding committing them to “partnership principles” of working for peace and stability in the region, upholding human rights and combatting poverty.

Ms Greening refused to be drawn on whether she believed Rwanda had lived up to its side of the agreement.

She said: “It is too early conclude whether I feel Rwanda has made progress on our partnership principles in the past month. The partnership principles are very important. It is a challenge for me to look at [Rwanda’s] progress and where there is less progress or indeed no progress