Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Thursday, 8 November 2012

International Development Committee

Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell has defended the decision he took on his last day of office to give millions of dollars in aid to Rwanda.

The government has questioned why around £16m of aid was given, while Rwanda's rulers allegedly funded rebels in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Speaking to the International Development Committee on 8 November 2012, Mr Mitchell said that not giving the money would have had damaging effects for people living in Rwanda.

"Taking away budget support would have no effect on the elite in [the capital] Kigali but it would, bluntly, take girls out of school elsewhere in that country", he insisted.

In July, Mr Mitchell blocked the UK's £37m annual contribution to the Rwandan government after he visited the Kivus region of the DRC.

However, he decided few weeks later to unfreeze the aid, citing progress at international talks, meaning a £16m tranche of the £37m was paid.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, in power since 2000, has come under fierce criticism recently for allegedly funding the M23 rebel group in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A leaked United Nations document says Rwanda's defence minister is effectively commanding the rebellion.

The violence has drawn international condemnation, and the US and some European countries have withheld aid from the Kagame regime.

Mr Mitchell was moved from his post as International Development Secretary in the recent government reshuffle, becoming the Chief Whip.

However he was forced to resign from his new post a short time later after becoming embroiled in a row over an alleged altercation with a police officer.


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