Rwanda government has cautioned the public not to pay attention to people who manipulate its relations with Belgium for personal interests.
Media reports had earlier claimed that the Belgium government had withheld over €40 million of ‘bonus package’ aid accusing Rwanda of breaching terms in the aid agreement including meeting media freedom and governance targets.
Louise Mushikiwabo, the Foreign Affairs Minister told Journalists on Wednesday, “It’s important to know that there are NGOs and people who manipulate our relations with other countries for personal interests.”
She affirmed the strong relations between Rwanda and Belgium saying that her country cannot listen to Belgian NGOs who manipulate the two countries relations for their agenda.
“As far as Rwanda is concerned, there is no issue between the two countries…we have had constant interactions on political and economic interests. There is no big deal with those reports,” Mushikiwabo said.
The Minister said in the last discussions between the two countries, a three-year-aid deal worth €160million was signed, to be disbursed in parts.
She explained that of this sum, Belgium took sovereign decision to put €40 million aside, as an incentive for where they wanted Rwanda to improve in sectors of media freedom and democracy.
“That was their sovereign decision. And aid comes with agreement. On our side, there is no single part of agreement we have not implemented.”
Belgium, through its embassy in Kigali, issued a statement saying that some components related to disbursement of the fund were no longer relevant, while others were not fully met.
The statement however confirmed Belgium’s commitment to maintain long lasting partnership with Rwanda.
“To ensure the continuity of the Indicative Cooperation Agreement, and show commitment to the long-term partnership, Belgium decided this month to allocate 18 million € extra in budget support for the Rwandan health sector,” the statement reads in part.
Mushikiwabo said, “we will on January 7 receive Belgian foreign affairs and cooperation Ministers. Their visit signals our continued relations. We will be looking at how to even do better.”
In 2012, some European countries froze aid to Rwanda, over allegations that the country was aiding M23 rebel groups in DRC, which Rwanda vehemently denied. A year later, aid was reinstated.
Rwanda has recently witnessed an influx of aid deals to support its development agenda.
By Dan Ngabonziza & Jean de la Croix Tabaro