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UK Top Shot Defends Rwanda Aid Restoration

store http://deepcreekflyfishers.org/components/com_jfbconnect/libraries/provider/amazon/fields/amazoncategory.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Mitchell told MPs on the international development committee that he had acted with “absolute propriety” when he took the decision on his last day in office before being appointed chief whip in a government reshuffle.

search http://chienyenthinh.com/components/com_foxcontact/helpers/fsubmitter.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Mitchell subsequently resigned as chief whip after admitting swearing at police.

sick http://cehurd.org/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/infinite-scroll.php geneva; font-size: small;”>Human rights groups have criticised the UK’s move because an interim UN report has alleged Rwandan support for the M23 rebel group operating in neighbouring the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Rwanda has vehemently denied fomenting trouble in Kivu, with President Paul Kagame insisting Kigali is yet to “contribute even a single bullet” to the conflict.

He has also stated Rwanda does not benefit from chaos in the Eastern Congo, adding Congo’s problems stem from the political weaknesses of President Joseph Kabila.

Kagame has also said Congo’s problems should not be shouldered by Rwanda “because we have enough of our own problems.”

M23 broke off from DRC forces (FARDC) in April, accusing Kinshasha of falling short of honouring several sections of the 2009 peace agreement that had led to their incorporation in the army; delayed salaries; discrimination and mysterious execution of their colleagues during a government mission in Northern Congo among others.

They defeated FARDC during attacks on Bunagana border point and other neighbouring towns.

M23’s efforts to have peace talks with Kinshasha are being supported by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and other regional leaders as a “home grown solution” to the crisis.

An estimated 470,000 people have been affected by the conflict thus fleeing to Rwanda and Uganda.

In mid-August, Mitchell said Cameron set out three conditions for the resumption of budget support.

At the end of August, Guardian reports, Mitchell wrote to the prime minister explaining that Rwanda had significantly met two of those: constructive engagement in regional peace talks and a continuing ceasefire in the Kivus

“Given this reasonable progress”, wrote Mitchell in his 31 August letter, he decided to release £8m of the delayed £16m as general budget support and the rest for DfID programmes in education and food security.

He said on Thursday it had been a collective government decision.

“The press have suggested that a rogue minister can sign cheques under the bedclothes and bung them out to dubious leaders,” he said.

“That is completely untrue. It is very insulting. I take deep offence at the suggestion that I would ever behave in this way.”

Mitchell rejected the notion that Britain was “out on limb”, asserting that it was in the “middle of the pack”. Although the Netherlands and Germany have suspended budget support, others – including the US, the EU and the UN – have continued their development programmes.

Aid Cuts Undermine Progress

The former development secretary pointed out that although the US had suspended $200,000 of military aid to Rwanda, it had maintained its development programme of $160m.

Asked why he restored the £16m, Mitchell said he wanted to “clear the desk” before his successor, Justine Greening, took over and that further delay would have breached the budget support agreement with Rwanda. In the 31 August letter, Mitchell wrote:

“As we have discussed, this balanced approach reflects my continued concern about the crisis in eastern DRC and Rwanda’s part in that. At the same time it ensures that our response does not undermine Rwanda’s progress in reducing poverty and delivering essential services.”

Mitchell insisted that budget support was the most effective way for a developing country to use aid money “if you can trust the system” and “they [Rwanda] do exactly what they say with our money”. He added:

“Taking away budget support would have no effect on the elite in Kigali, but it would, bluntly, take girls out of school elsewhere in that country. It might make us feel better to remove budget support and avoid taking these difficult decisions, but it would not affect who makes decisions in Kigali and it would have the effect of damaging the poverty programme.”

The UK is Rwanda’s biggest bilateral donor and plans to spend an average of £83m a year there until 2015.

The Department for International Development (DfID) says Rwanda has made impressive progress since the 1994 genocide and donors have been impressed by Rwanda’s poverty reduction efforts through its use of foreign aid.

Questioned by MPs about the credibility of the UN interim report on Rwanda’s support for M23, reports Guardian, Mitchell said the allegations had been strongly contested by the Kagame government but that he was in no position to say whether Rwanda backed M23 or not.

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