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Aggression in the East: US considers expelling Rwandan soldiers from international military education and training program and suspending all aid to Rwandan peacekeepers

Aggression in the East: US considers expelling Rwandan soldiers from international military education and training program and suspending all aid to Rwandan peacekeepers

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, in correspondence to US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, expressed concern over the Rwandan government’s continued disregard for democratic and human rights, and on the need for a more effective American policy.

In this correspondence, Robert Menendes reveals that Rwanda is once again engaged in actions of regional destabilization in Central Africa, more particularly in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo where it operates under the M23 label.

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“A week after the photo op with senior US officials, the Rwandan army has been credibly accused of supporting M23 rebels in the DRC and of deploying Rwandan soldiers across the border with the DRC says Senator Robert Menendes, recalling that at the end of the 1990s, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the DRC, triggering a regional war which, according to the International Rescue Committee, took up to 5.4 million deaths from 1998 to 2007 due to the conflict and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

In 2012, the senior US parliamentarian recounted, Rwanda again sought to undermine the DRC by supporting M23 rebels who captured the eastern DRC town of Goma, killing hundreds of civilians and displacing over 100,000 people.

“Ten years later, in 2022, Rwanda again sent troops across the border into the DRC and reactivated the M23 as a proxy militia now responsible for killing Congolese civilians, Congolese troops and UN peacekeepers,” he said.

In light of these troubling issues, the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has urged the US Secretary of State to undertake a comprehensive review of US policy towards Rwanda. Such a review, he stresses, “should not only include a thoughtful examination of the levels and types of assistance we provide, but it should also identify the steps we should take to ensure the safety and security of American citizens. and lawful permanent residents”.

In response to Rwanda’s targeting of American residents in the United States and efforts to further destabilize neighboring DRC, the Administration may also consider removing any Rwandan military or government officials currently in the United States participating in the education program and International Military Training Programs (IMET) or other military assistance programs in Rwanda.

Suspend all military assistance to Rwanda, including Rwandan blue helmets

In the same vein, Senator Menendes also reiterated his intention to carefully examine any aid requested from Congress for Rwanda, and to suspend all security assistance, starting with several million dollars in support of blue helmets. Rwandan.

“I fear that any US support for the Rwandan army while it is deployed in the DRC in support of the rebels responsible for attacks on Congolese civilians, Congolese troops and UN peacekeepers, could send a a troubling signal that the United States tacitly condones such actions,” he said.

Separately, he argued that the United States cannot support Rwandan contributions to peacekeeping in parts of Africa while turning a blind eye as Rwanda foments rebellion and violence in other parts. from the continent.

At the end of May, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, had, through a message relayed on his Twitter account, stressed that investigations must be expedited so that those responsible for the aggression suffered by the DRC are punished.

Carmel NDEO

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