FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Rwanda

10 Oct

Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:27pm GMT

By Jenny Clover

KIGALI Oct 10 (Reuters) – Donors including the United States, the Netherlands and Germany have suspended some of their financial aid to Rwanda over accusations that it is backing the rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Paul Kagame has said Western governments were “dead wrong” in blaming Rwanda for the rebellion in neighbouring eastern Congo and threatening Kigali with aid cuts.

 

Following are political risks to watch in Rwanda.

AID SUSPENSION

Last month Britain broke ranks with other donors and unblocked about half of its $25 million aid to Rwanda, welcoming Kigali’s constructive efforts to solve the conflict.

What to watch:

— Will other donors follow Britain and unfreeze aid, or will Britain’s new international development minister reverse the decision and re-suspend aid?

— How will donors react to the new UN report on the situation in eastern DRC due to be released in November, if it alleges continuing Rwandan involvement in the conflict.

— Although regional states have agreed to a 4,000-strong force to try to neutralise the M23 rebels, will the force get off the ground?

 

SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT

The UN will decide on Rwanda’s application for a revolving seat on the Security Council later this month. The decision will be a key indicator of the U.N.’s attitude towards Rwanda in the wake of its accusations over supporting M23.

What to watch:

– How much power will Rwanda be able to exert if they do get a seat on the Security Council?

POLITICAL OPPONENTS, INTERNAL RIFTS

Kagame was re-elected by a landslide in 2010 for a final term that expires in 2017. He has led his country’s recovery from the 1994 genocide, and has received praise for his efforts to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020.

But critics accuse him of being authoritarian and trampling on media and political freedoms.

A Rwandan court is due to issue a verdict soon in the trial of opposition politician Victoire Ingabire, leader of the unregistered FDU-Inkingi party. She faces charges including denying the genocide, divisionism and working with a “terrorist group”.

In mid-April Ingabire decided to boycott the trial, saying her “trust in the judiciary has waned”. She denies funding Hutu FDLR rebels based in Democratic Republic of Congo and says her detention is politically motivated.

What to watch:

– Verdict on Ingabire. This is a major test of the independence of Rwanda’s judiciary. Her British lawyer says the laws under which she is being tried were not enacted when the crimes were alleged to have been committed, or they lie outside the jurisdiction of the court.

– How will Kagame react to pressure from opposition parties and the West for political liberalisation? (Editing by James Macharia and Diana Abdallah)

Source: Reuters

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