by Ray Fleming

Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell was fortunate that his exchange of words with police in Downing Street came at a time that Parliament was in recess. With the prime minister unwilling to take action against him and no face-to-face confrontations in the Commons, he has been able to lie low and hope the incident will be forgotten by the time the party conferences are over at the end of this week. But now another problem may face Mr Mitchell. His last act as International Development Secretary before he became Chief Whip was to authorise the payment of eight million pounds to the government of Rwanda in Africa. The money had been frozen because of increasing doubts about the policies of President Kagame and the withdrawal of aid to him by the United States, Sweden and the Netherlands as well as warnings from the United Nations.

Dating from the Labour government, Britain has been the biggest single aid donor to Rwanda but subsequent serious doubts about President Kagame have ranged from evidence of brutal internal suppression of opposition to interference in the unsettled neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. It is believed that the Foreign Office has reservations about President Kagame and would have preferred that the eight millions remained in deep freeze until the new minister -- Justine Greening., late of Transport and the West Coast franchise -- settles in.