FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Rwanda

9 Nov

Thu Nov 8, 2012

Nov 8 (Reuters) – Relations between Rwanda and its donors are strained after two U.N. experts reported alleged Rwandan support for a rebellion in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and accused Rwanda’s defence minister of leading it.

Donors including the United States, the Netherlands and Germany have suspended some of their financial aid to Rwanda over accusations that it is backing M23 rebels in eastern DRC. President Paul Kagame denies the allegations.

Relations between Rwanda and DRC have also worsened, and a Congolese soldier was killed by Rwandan troops after a clash near the border.

Last month Rwanda won a revolving two-year seat on the U.N. Security Council to begin in 2013, something Kigali saw as a victory after high-profile accusations of its support for M23.

What to watch out for:

– Rwanda says that if the suspended aid isn’t restarted by January, it could harm the economy

– Britain has broken ranks with other donors by unblocking about half of its $25 million aid to Rwanda in September, welcoming Kigali’s constructive efforts to solve the conflict. Will other donors follow Britain and unfreeze aid?

– Will Britain’s new development secretary re-suspend aid?

– Will the fighting at the Rwanda-Congo border escalate?

– Regional states have agreed to a 4,000-strong force to try to neutralise the M23 rebels, but will this get off the ground?

 

POLITICAL OPPONENTS, INTERNAL RIFTS

Last month a Rwandan court jailed opposition politician Victoire Ingabire for eight years on charges of minimising the 1994 genocide and terrorism, a case seen as a test of the judiciary’s independence. Ingabire plans to appeal the conviction.

Kagame has been accused by critics of being authoritarian and trampling on media and political freedoms. He rejects the accusations, and points to his record of leading his country’s recovery from the genocide.

Kagame says he plans to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020. He was re-elected by a landslide in 2010 for a final term that expires in 2017.

Ingabire returned to Rwanda in January 2010 from exile in the Netherlands to contest presidential elections but was barred from standing after being charged in court.

What to watch:

– Will Ingabire’s appeal be successful?

– How will Kagame react to pressure from opposition parties and the West for political liberalisation?

– Will other opposition politicians face the same treatment meted out to Ingabire should they decide to run for top office?

– What’s in store for the Democratic Greens party when it seeks registration later this month?

(Editing by James Macharia and Mark Heinrich)

Source: Reuters

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