US Senate fm to hold aid to Rwanda

US Senate fm to hold aid to Rwanda

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he would place a hold on US security assistance to Rwanda in Congress over concerns about the Rwandan government's human rights record and role in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Senator Robert Menendez called for a comprehensive review of US policy towards Rwanda in a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

According to the letter, which was leaked to the media, Menendez said he would begin by placing a hold on several million dollars in support for Rwandan peacekeepers participating in UN missions. A hold is a procedure used in the Senate that prevents a motion from reaching the floor for a vote.

Menendez said he feared that US support for the Rwandan military, while it is deployed to Congo and backing rebels, would send a troubling signal that the US tacitly approves of such actions. The M 23 rebel group began a major offensive in the eastern borderlands of Congo with Rwanda at the end of March. Kigali denies that Rwanda supports M 23. Congo has accused Rwanda of backing it.

The United States gave more than $147 million in foreign aid to Rwanda in 2021, making it Rwanda's largest bilateral donor.

Menendez said there were credible accusations that the Rwandan government was muzzling critics at home and targeting dissidents living outside the country.

The US State Department reviews policies in response to events on the ground, and will consult with Congress on the issue of aid to Rwanda, according to a department spokeswoman Ned Price on Monday.

In a regular press briefing, Price urged both sides to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue, as we said before that we were concerned about the rising tensions between the DRC and Rwanda.

A Rwandan government spokeswoman didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.