December 22, 2014 / 4:36 PM / 4 years ago

Belgium scraps $50 million aid as Rwanda fails to meet democracy target

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda arrives at the 8th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit at Safari Park Hotel, in Nairobi December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

KIGALI (Reuters) - Belgium has scrapped 40-million-euro ($50-million) of aid to Rwanda over its failure to meet media freedom and governance targets, a diplomat at the Belgian embassy in Kigali said on Monday.

Rwanda’s tiny economy remains dependent on outside support and Western countries’ suspension of aid in 2012 over alleged support from President Paul Kagame’s administration for M23 rebels in neighboring Congo, hurt Rwanda’s growth in 2013.

Belgium in 2011 promised to give Rwanda aid worth 160 million euros over four years, the diplomat said, and offered an additional 40 million euros if it met various targets.

“The 40 million euros, in the agreement, was a reward that could be given to Rwanda if the score on media and governance was sufficiently met. There were improvements but not sufficient as written in the agreement we signed in 2011,” he said.

Rwanda’s minister of finance said that the government was still discussing payment of the extra money with Belgium.

“We are discussing it in our cooperation and we haven’t raised it as an issue at all,” Claver Gatete told Reuters.

Rwanda is ranked 162 out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders media freedom index. Critics accuse Kagame of trampling on media and political freedoms.

The economy expanded 4.7 percent in 2013, its weakest since 2003, missing the central African country’s own 7.6 percent forecast.

Many Western partners have since resumed aid flows and Rwanda’s economic growth is seen at 6 percent this year, rising to 6.5 percent in 2015.

Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Louise Ireland

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