Rwanda loses £16 million of UK aid.By David Blair

Rwanda, one of Britain’s closest African allies, has lost £16 million of UK aid after being accused of fuelling a rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has driven 470,000 people from their homes.

President Paul Kagame of  HYPERLINK « » Rwanda, once hailed as one of Africa’s most successful leaders, addressed the Conservative party conference in 2007. His country was later favoured with admission to the Commonwealth, although it has no history of British rule.

But the United Nations reported last month that Mr Kagame shared responsibility for a bloody uprising in neighbouring  HYPERLINK « » Congo. Bosco Ntaganda, an indicted war criminal commonly known as the « Terminator », led a Congolese army mutiny in April.

This inflicted a new round of bloodshed on the provinces of North and South Kivu, with at least 50,000 refugees entering Uganda and another 420,000 fleeing elsewhere in Congo. Ntaganda’s rebels, known as the « M23 » movement, have carried out their campaign using weapons and volunteers supplied by Rwanda, according to UN investigators.

America implicitly endorsed this claim by suspending military assistance for Mr Kagame. Britain is Rwanda’s largest bilateral donor, with a £75 million aid programme this year.

Unusually, Rwanda benefits from « general budgetary support » whereby British money goes directly into the country’s coffers, without being allocated for specific sectors like health or education. This year, £37 million was set aside for this purpose.

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