STOCKHOLM: Sweden announced yesterday that it was provisionally suspending aid to Rwanda pending clarification of reports that the central African nation has backed rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We have chosen to hold off with aid to shed light on what is going on Congo and how they (the Rwandan authorities) are involved,” Cooperation Minister Gunilla Carlsson told public radio SR.
“We have not stopped, we have chosen to freeze” a part of the aid budget, said Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman Eva Sundquist, adding that Rwanda should “take up its responsibilities for the development of the region.”
Sweden has not given direct budgetary support to Rwanda since 2008, but instead finances development projects in areas such as human rights, the environment and free trade initiatives, added Sundquist.
The United States, the Netherlands and Germany have already suspended all or part of their aid to Rwanda since a UN report in June accused high-ranking Rwandan officials of backing army mutineers in eastern DR Congo, who have formed a rebel group called M23.
Rwanda strongly denies the allegation and has in turn accused the Kinshasa government of backing Rwandan Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), who also operate in eastern DR Congo and are opposed to the Rwandan regime of President Paul Kagame.
Asked by AFP what a partial freeze of Swedish aid would entail, the Swedish foreign ministry gave no details.
In 2011, Sweden gave Rwanda aid worth 215 million kronor (26.1 million euros, $32.2 million).
A summit of the African Great Lakes nations, which include Rwanda and DR Congo, was held last week to open the way for a neutral force to eradicate the armed groups operating in eastern DR Congo, but it ended Wednesday with no significant outcome.