Kigali - Rwanda's army on Friday slammed United States'
sanctions for the use of child soldiers by rebels it is accused of supporting
in Democratic Republic of Congo, saying it had no factual basis.
"It is surprising that Rwanda would be liable for
matters that are neither on its territory nor in its practices," army spokesperson
Joseph Nzabamwita said in a statement, adding that the "decision to
include Rwanda among states that use child soldiers is not based on evidence or
The United Nations accuses Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels
in neighbouring eastern DRC, a charge the country has adamantly denied.
On Thursday, US Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington was invoking the 2008 Child
Soldiers Protection Act in sanctioning Rwanda as a measure seeking to end
"any involvement in the recruitment of child soldiers."
A senior US State Department official said the measures
terminated financial and military assistance in the fiscal year 2014, which
began on 1 October.
"As a long term partner of the Rwanda Defence Force,
the United States has ample evidence that our forces have never tolerated the
use of children in combat," Nzabamwita said, adding that Kigali would
continue to work with the US.
"Rwanda's commitment to a sustainable solution that
seeks to bring an end to the DRC conflict and its consequences, including the
use of child soldiers, remains unchanged."
The M23 was founded by former Tutsi rebels who were
incorporated into the Congolese army under a 2009 peace deal.
In April 2012, the M23 turned their guns on their former
comrades and launched the latest rebellion to ravage DRC's mineral-rich and