Andrew Mitchell faces grilling over Rwandan aid decision

1 Nov

Thursday 1 November 2012 11.39 GMT

Former chief whip to be questioned over decision to restore £16m in aid on last day as international development secretary

Andrew Mitchell worked in the Department for International Development before his brief stint as chief whip. Photograph: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

Andrew Mitchell, the former chief whip who resigned after becoming embroiled in “plebgate“, is to be grilled by MPs over a decision made on his last day as international development secretary to restore British aidto Rwanda. The decision was made despite fears about the human rights record of the country’s president, Paul Kagame.

Mitchell is scheduled to give evidence on 8 November to the international development committee, which is investigating the decision by the Department for International Development to grant £16m in aid to the Rwandan government. DFID made the decision despite allegations about Rwanda’s role in the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the decision of other donors who withdrew budget support not to reinstate it.

The UK, Rwanda’s biggest bilateral donor, is now under pressure to halt the aid, after one of Kagame’s allies was named in a leaked report as the de facto leader of a violent uprising in the DRC. UN experts identified General James Kabarebe, the Rwandan defence minister, as effectively directing a Congolese rebel militia accused of killings, rapes and other atrocities.

In an interview in August, Kabarebe, who for years has faced accusations of plundering Congo’s mineral resources, denied that the Rwandan army supported the M23 militia. “Everyone knows that Rwanda does not have a single soldier among the M23 and does not give it any support,” he told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Mitchell’s decision in September to restore the aid was made just hours before he left the department to take up his new post as chief whip following David Cameron’s September reshuffle, for what proved to be a brief stint.

He returned to the backbenches last month after quitting in the face of sustained criticism over his expletive-laden outburst to a police officer at Downing Street.

The MP for Sutton Coldfield, who forged a strong political relationship with Kagame while the Tories were in opposition, now faces questions over his agreement to restore the aid to the Rwandan government in September 2012. He had originally put a block on it after visiting the Kivu region of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. He had cited progress at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region under the chairmanship of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Ugandan president.

It emerged last month that the unfreezing of the aid was formally approved by the Department for International Development, the FCO and Downing Street.

Mitchell, who was appointed international development secretary after the 2010 general election, was succeeded by Justine Greening, will give evidence to the committee the following week.

Source: The Guardian


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: