Rwanda Information Portal

No pressure from UN Secretary General to alter Rwanda Genocide report

Geneva: UN chief Ban Ki-moon never asked for claims of “genocide” by Rwandan forces to be removed from a report on violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN human rights spokesman said on Tuesday.

Rejecting media reports of interference by Ban on the final wording of a report on the atrocities committed from 1993 to 2003 in the country, Rupert Colville, spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “I want to make this crystal clear, this is absolutely untrue.

“Up to this point the Secretary General has never put pressure on the High Commissioner (for Human Rights) to alter the text,” he added.

The 600-page UN report was leaked to French newspaper Le Monde, which in an article last Friday quoted unnamed UN sources claiming that Ban had warned Navi Pillay, the UN human rights chief, against using the word “genocide” in reference to Rwandan forces.

The newspaper’s sources said that Rwanda, one of the biggest contributors of peacekeeping forces in the region, had threatened to withdraw its support to the United Nations if the damning report were to be published or leaked.

The UN probe underlined that Rwandan Tutsi troops and their rebel allies targeted, chased, hacked, shot and burned Hutus in the DRC, from 1996 to 1997, after the outbreak of a cross-border Central African war.

The probe did not list a death toll but found evidence suggesting tens of thousands of Hutus had been killed. UN and other aid agencies said in the 1990s that 200 000 Hutus were unaccounted for.

Following the leak of the report, Rwanda has threatened to curtail its cooperation with the United Nations.

“We reiterate here what we have already told the high commissioner; namely that attempts to take action on this report – will force us to withdraw from Rwanda’s various commitments to the United Nations, especially in the area of peacekeeping,” Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo wrote to the UN’s Ban.

[ARI-RNA]

September 1, 2010   3 Comments

Rwandan Peacekeepers on standby for ‘pull out’

Pull out before being thrown out!

It is logical that an army which has committed genocide crimes is pulled out of any UN peacekeeping mission. Rwanda knows it and in order to avoid that the history records that their peacekeepers have been expelled by the UN, the Rwandan Government wants to stage it as if it was its decision to pull out.

Saying “if you publish the report, we pull out” is pure blackmail and another sign of political hooliganism.
The report is there. Published or not, the content and the facts described in it must be addressed, honestly.

A responsible governement would say: “We want our name cleared as quickly as possible, and as long as these genocide accusations are there, we will not participate in any UN-backed peacekeeping operation“.

Kigali – Government has put contingents of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) serving under UN-backed peacekeeping operations on standby for pull out, if the UN publishes a report alleging that Rwandan troops were involved in mass killings in the DRC between 1994 and 2003.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister and Government Spokesperson, Louise Mushikiwabo, made the announcement, yesterday, during a news conference to clarify on the government’s position on the recently leaked draft UN report.

“We are waiting to see what the United Nations does with this report, but we are very seriously considering pulling out our troops,” Mushikiwabo said, adding that the RDF contingent commander in Darfur has already been instructed to be prepared.

“Our troops are on standby; it is up to the United Nations,” the Minister said, adding that the government is not happy about the imminent troop withdrawal, but was being forced to.

She further pointed out that the leaking of such a report was not an isolated act, but rather part of a larger pattern aimed at discrediting Rwanda’s achievements. “It is a report with an agenda,” Mushikiwabo stressed.

“How could the UN accuse Rwanda’s army of raping and killing, and at the same time, want them to be the dedicated army that can protect people around the world,” she said. “If they (UN) label us as a Genocidal army, then they should be able to find another army to do it.”

Army and Defence Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jill Rutaremara, told The New Times that they were ready to pull out.

“The Rwanda Defence Force [RDF] has finalized a contingency withdrawal plan for its peacekeepers, in response to a government directive, in case the UN publishes its outrageous and damaging report,” Rutaremara said.

“The withdrawal will apply to the RDF peacekeepers serving under the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur [UNAMID] and the United Nations Mission in Sudan [UNMIS],” he added.

Reacting to a question regarding the possible involvement of Kofi Annan – the UN Secretary General during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – Minister Mushikiwabo said that work on the yet to be published report started and was funded during his tenure.

She said Kofi Annan is a man whose record, as far as Rwanda is concerned, is pitiful.

“He failed miserably,” she said. “I am not surprised and my Government is not surprised that he (Annan) would be the one making sure that there is funding for this kind of report to ensure that it was an important gesture he would pose before he leaves office,” Mushikiwabo stressed, adding that the involvement of Annan in the making of the report is unquestionable.

In a statement released last week, the Government described the draft report as malicious, offensive and ridiculous, adding that it appeared that the UN was trying to divert international attention from its latest failure in the Great Lakes Region.

[The New Times]

September 1, 2010   No Comments

Be tough on Kagame, do not beg for his favours!

Kagame Bloody Hands

Why negociate power sharing with genocidaire Kagame?

This is a crucial moment. The times have changed, we must adapt our strategies.
I am still surprised to notice that, even at this stage, Rwandan opposition is still pleading with the genocide suspect General Kagame begging for a power-sharing with unrepenting criminals.
Instead of using most of their energy calling for Kagame to open up political space, Rwandans and peace lovers should, in my opinion, use that energy in targeting the UN, governements, religious institutions, and any other organisations which might have some influence, urging them to put Kagame in quarantine and require that he and his officers are brought to justice.
Why keep negociating with a criminal when at last the incriminating evidence we all knew about is finally being echoed by a credible body such as the UN HCHR?

Three immediate actions are needed:

1.- Start and maintain a campaign focusing on UN now and requesting total end of cover up! Prevent that the final HCHR report is amended to please genocidaire Kagame et his allies. Request recognition of previous reports which had been put under the carpet.

2.- Consistently contact decision makers, parliamentarians and lobbyists in various countries and explain the dangers of keeping associated with genocide. Deter them from continuing to cover up the crimes which have cost more than 6 million people now. Remind every day western taxpayers that their money allocated to the Rwandan budget has been funding a genocide in Rwanda and Congo and that it is now time to put things right.

3.- Request with persistence that the international community helps Rwandans to hunt down Kagame and bring him to justice.

Are you ready for that?

September 1, 2010   1 Comment

UN urged to take its responsibilities in regard to Kagame’s army genocide crimes

by Eugene Ndahayo.

Genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Rwandan Hutu Refugees.

The Support Committee for United Democratic Forces (UDF-Inkingi) received a draft of the forthcoming report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) entitled “Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003”.

The report is very detailed and extremely well documented. It covers 617 incidents encompassing the most serious violations of humanitarian law including more than 100 cases with emphasis on large-scale massacres of Hutu refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This report has been made possible due to the cooperation of 1280 crucial witnesses including more than 200 NGOs representatives and a compilation and analysis of more than 1,500 documents.

Even though the report accuses other national armies and/or irregular armed groups, it is very damning with regard to the current Rwandan regime and its army, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), which are accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Hutu refugees.

With regard to crimes against humanity, the report Mapping Exercise says: “The information gathered to date makes it possible to confirm quite clearly that these were indeed crimes against humanity: the very high number of serious crimes listed, committed by the AFDL/APR against Hutu refugees, indicates the widespread nature of these attacks. The systematic, planned and widespread nature of these attacks is also demonstrated by the hunting-down of refugees that took place from east to west throughout the whole of the DRC…” Paragraph 494.

The report also reinforces the conclusions from previous reports of both the United Nations and the joint mission mandated by the Commission on Human Rights which in 1997 investigated whether or not crimes of genocide against the Hutu refugees or others have been committed in the DRC. It had been reported to the United Nations General Assembly that: “One cannot deny that massacres of ethnic character were committed, whose victims are mainly Hutus, Rwandans, Burundians and Zairians. According to the preliminary view of the joint mission, some of these allegations [some of these alleged massacres] could constitute acts of genocide. However, it remains that the information currently available to the joint mission does not allow drawing a precise and definitive statement. A thorough investigation on the territory of the DRC could clarify this situation”.

The Report Mapping Exercise clearly attests the perpetration of the crime of genocide by the Rwandan army in these words: “The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide. The behavior of certain elements of the AFDL/APR in respect of the Hutu refugees and Hutu populations settled in Zaire at this time seems to equate to “a manifest pattern of similar conduct directed against that group”, from which a court could even deduce the existence of a genocidal plan.” Paragraph 517.

The report continues: “Nonetheless, neither the fact that only men were targeted during the massacres, nor the fact that part of the group were allowed to leave the country or that their movement was facilitated for various reasons, are sufficient in themselves to entirely remove the intention of certain people to partially destroy an ethnic group as such. In this respect, it seems possible to infer a specific intention on the part of certain AFDL/APR commanders to partially destroy the Hutus in the DRC, and therefore to commit a crime of genocide, based on their conduct, words and the damning circumstances of the acts of violence committed by the men under their command. It will be for a court with proper jurisdiction to rule on this question.” Paragraph 518.

The Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi unreservedly condemns the grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by national armies and irregular armed groups on the Congolese territory between 1993 and 2003. It specifically condemns the crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide perpetrated by the Rwandan army led by the President of the Republic, Paul Kagame.

Given the seriousness and magnitude of the crimes, the Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi believes that President Paul Kagame does no longer qualify to lead the country and that he should face international justice for the crimes committed. This is especially relevant that the advertisement of such crimes is taking place following the presidential elections which were marked by terror, imprisonment and murder of political opponents and independent journalists as well as total exclusion of the political opposition from the electoral process.

The Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi urges the international community, particularly the members of the Security Council, to take their responsibilities, namely the obligation to prosecute the crime of genocide, now that such a crime is well established and that it has been committed.

Done in Lyon, on August 28, 2010

For the Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi
Eugene Ndahayo
President

September 1, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda’s day of judgment looms

RWANDA’S reckoning has come and it is long overdue.

Kagame Bloody Hands

Britain, in particular, has long been enamoured by UN genocide suspect General Kagame, despite evidence that millions of pounds of British aid helped to fund his plunder of natural resources in Congo, contributing to millions of deaths in the war there.

Accusations of genocide now levelled in a leaked UN report at its Tutsi-led government are no surprise to the peacekeepers or aid workers who have lived and worked in the tragic crucible of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and heard the terrible testimony of the massacres there.

The report, due for release next month, details the systematic killings of tens of thousands of ethnic Hutus inside the DRC in the wake of the 1994 genocide. Most of the incidents that the report documents are at least 15 years old. For most of that time, they have been considered simply too explosive to be scrutinised publicly, adding to a conspiracy of silence about the Tutsi crimes of the Rwandan genocide.

Rwanda proclaims itself furious that investigators did not go there to ask questions. Would they have got any answers? Rwanda is a virtual police state where the human rights community is among the most cowed in the world. To challenge the accepted narrative of the Tutsis as Rwanda’s liberators is to “perpetrate genocidal ideology” and is forbidden.

Rwanda is outraged to be judged by the UN, an organisation that so dramatically failed it in its hour of need. Here it may have a point. But Rwanda has too long relied on the world’s guilt over failing to stop the genocide to avoid scrutiny of its more unpalatable behaviour.

Paul Kagame, the Rwandan President and leader of the troops accused of genocide, has been adept at milking this, becoming the darling of Western governments and the recipient of billions in aid. Britain, in particular, has long been enamoured by him, despite evidence that millions of pounds of British aid helped to fund his plunder of natural resources in Congo, contributing to millions of deaths in the war there.

Will this report change anything? As the authors note, it is up to an independent court to decide whether what happened was genocide.

That court could be the International Criminal Court, to which Congo is a signatory. Rwanda, intriguingly, is not.

Justice for Rwanda has been victor’s justice until now, but that narrative has a potent challenge.

[The Times]

September 1, 2010   No Comments

Rwandan opposition calls for a transitional government

by the PPC.

The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda-PCC, which brings together the United Democratic Forces, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and the Social Party Imberakuri, is calling for a Transitional Government of National Unity involving all stakeholders which will organize free and fair elections. We once again urgently call for the release of all political prisoners, opening up of political space and an International Inquiry into the death of the Green Party’s Vice President, Andre KAGWA RWISEREKA.

All the three opposition parties were blocked from participating in the past concluded presidential elections which the incumbent rigged with over 93% after running with stooge candidates. General Paul KAGAME refused to register the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda after a whole year of risky peaceful struggle that was started on 14th August 2009. He also refused to register the United Democratic Forces-FDU Inkingi and imprisoned its leader Ms. Victoire Ingabire in April 2010, she was later released on bail but still under an extended house arrest.

The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front used all strategies to block the opposition from registering and participating in the elections. Some of which were very violent, like the sabotage of the Green Party congress of 30th October 2009, where the party delegates from all over the country were beaten up by armed state operatives and the meeting banned by police on grounds of trumped up security reasons. Similar events also happened to Ms.Victoire Ingabire Leader of FDU-Inkingi, she was beaten up in a Government office early in the year and has been charged on politically motivated crimes, such as harboring the genocide ideology and collaboration with a terrorist group.

The Social Party Imberakuri had managed to get registered in July 2009, but was later broken up into several factions, one of them now in the Government’s Political Parties Forum. Its Founding President, Maitre Bernard NTAGANDA is in prison since 24th June 2010.

On 11th August 2010, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda  was much alarmed and shocked by the statements from the Rwandan Minister of Education, Dr. Charles MURIGANDE, that the Green Party’ Vice President had died in a car accident.

In the same statement the Minister said that if opposition colleague Victoire Ingabire died in a car accident, that this should not be blamed on the Government of Rwanda.  The same day, 11th August, Victoire survived a car accident on her way back home.

Frank Habineza, faced both physical and indirect threats this year, he also received death threats, this was also published in UMUSESO Newspaper late February 2010 that he was going to be killed within 60 days. Although, this did not happen, his Vice President was decapitated.

URGENT CALL FOR ACTION:

  • We urgently call for urgent direct talks between the ruling block and the genuine opposition parties for a Transitional Government of National Unity involving all stakeholders which will organize free and fair elections. We believe that this will be the only solution to achieve sustainable peace in Rwanda.
  • We demand an immediate release from Prison of Mr. Bernard NTAGANDA, who was detained on 24th June 2010
  • We demand an immediate release and drop of all charges against Ms. Victoire INGABIRE, she is under extended house arrest since April 2010
  • We demand immediate release of Ms. Seraphine MUKAMANA a suffering mother in Kigali Maximum prison, since November 2009, she is the Green Party’s Kigali City Coordinator.
  • We demand immediate release of Mr. Martin NTAVUKA, FDU INKINGI District leader in KIGALI capital City.
  • We demand an immediate trial of the killers of Mr.Andre KAGWA RWISEREKA (Vice President of the Green Democratic Party of Rwanda) and we still call for an international independent inquiry into the death of Mr. RWISEREKA and an independent autopsy as Human Rights Watch has already requested.
  • We call for the release of all political prisoners, these include Mr. Charles NTAKIRUTINKA (since 2001, the former minister in the Rwandan government, is serving a 10-year sentence, he was charged for helping launch the Democratic Party for Renewal (PDR-Ubuyanja, Parti Démocratique du Renouveau) in collaboration with the Former President Pasteur BIZIMUNGU), Dr. Théoneste NIYITEGEKA (former presidential aspirant in the 2003 elections), Mr. Deogratias MUSHAYIDI (PDP IMANZI leader.
  • We call for the opening up of political space and registration of all opposition parties.

Considering the whole dimension of the leaked UN report accusing Rwanda of possible genocide in Congo, we encourage the United Nations and the International Community to move forward and to bring to book the responsible of wholesale war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The impunity is one of the key factor of the unrest in the African great Lakes region.

We call for the use of non-violent means to solve Rwandan problems and request all Rwandans not to use violence.

Issued at Kigali, 31st August 2010

Mrs. Victoire INGABIRE UMUHOZA
Chairperson, United Democratic Forces, FDU INKINGI

Mr. Frank HABINEZA
Founding President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

Mr. Theobald MUTARAMBIRWA
Secretary General, PS Imberakuri

September 1, 2010   2 Comments

“If you succumb to Kigali’s pressure, you will be held responsible”, UN Secretary is told

by Eugene Ndahayo.

Here is the letter addressed to the UN Secretary General on behalf of the Rwandan people:

Brussels, August 30, 2010

Mr. Ban Ki-Moon
UN Secretary General
Plaza, P. O. Box 20
New York, NY 10017, USA

Subject: DRC Mapping Exercise

Mr. Secretary General,

The Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi just read excerpts from the draft of the UN report on serious crimes including genocide, committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), against the Hutu refugees.

The French newspaper Le Monde (edition of August 26, 2010) and the International News organization based in the USA, The Christian Science Monitor, stated that the Kigali regime might be pressuring the United Nations so that the report can be dismissed or at least be watered down. Specifically, the Kigali regime would like that you simply erase the word “genocide” from the report. The Rwandan government has even threatened to withdraw from the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan, if its demands were not met.
The official statement released by the Rwandan government, dated August 27, 2010, confirmed this information to the press. Indeed, the deliberately aggressive tone used by the Rwandan government betrays its intention to do anything to intimidate and blackmail the United Nations. This is a usual RPF practice since its accession to power in 1994.

Mr. Secretary General,

In October 1994, the American Robert Gersony, then consultant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), accused the new RPF regime of having killed at least 30,000 Hutus since coming to power, following investigations conducted during three weeks in eastern Rwanda and one week in refugee camps in Tanzania .

As soon as the first elements of the draft report were published in the press, the Kigali regime threatened to terminate the operations of the UNAMIR, if the report was validated. The UN then succumbed to the combined pressures of Kigali and its lobbies and demanded that the UNHCR seal the report, while promising a counter expertise investigation. A joint committee composed of representatives of UNAMIR and the Rwandan Ministry of the Interior completed the investigation in one day following a visit to Rwamagana. The representative of the secretary of the UN, Shaharyar Khan, refused to validate the report of the UNHCR. Since then, the “Gersony report” has simply disappeared from the archives of the United Nations, according to a communication made to the defense counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

In October 1994, in the wake of the controversy around the “Gersony report”, the Irish Karen Kenny, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Rwanda, resigned. She believed that “in four months without a car, without a budget and, most importantly, without observers to deploy, she had just served as an alibi” .

On April 22, 1995, in the presence of Australian and Zambian peacekeepers from UNAMIR, the Rwandan Patriotic Army massacred Hutus that were internally displaced in Kibeho. The UN did nothing to make sure that the guilty were punished. Instead, it just asked the Rwandan government, which was the prime suspect, to investigate and prosecute.

In 1997, the Special Reporter of the UN commission in charge of human rights in DRC, the Chilean Roberto Garreton, released a damning report on crimes committed by the RPA against the Hutu refugees in DRC. The Kigali regime immediately began an intensive pressure to suppress the report and block a UN mission that was requested by President Laurent Desire Kabila with the mandate to confirm the results of the Garreton mission. The UN mission had to pack their bags following obstruction by the authorities who were under hostage of Kigali.

Mr. Secretary General,

At the end of your recent meeting with Spanish Prime Minister, you requested the Kigali regime to shade the light on recent assassinations, including the assassination of journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage, deputy editor of the newspaper Umuvugizi, and the first vice-president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka. To our knowledge, nothing has been done so far.

If it were proved that the UN is about to succumb once again to pressure of a regime accused of serious offenses in order to suppress or tone down the report, the Rwandan people would hold you responsible for their plight, because you would have breached your mission as the guarantor of peace and respect for human rights for all.

The fact that the Kigali regime threatens to withdraw its troops from Darfur does not seem to be a reason to succumb. The presence of troops that are under pressure to serious suspicion of genocide is also not good news for a mission that has been deployed following acts of genocide and for which the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been seized. It would be an honor for the UN to have troops with a blank criminal record and free from all suspicions.

Mr. Secretary General,

Rwanda is at a crossroads. Not to take this opportunity to send a strong message to the Rwandan authorities to finally comply with human rights would be a bad omen for the credibility of the UN and a disservice to the people of Rwanda.

We hope that wisdom will prevail; that the report will be released without any external interference. Moreover, in view of the international obligations of repression of genocide, it will be up to the UN to establish a judicial mechanism to ensure that perpetrators do not go unpunished.

Please accept, Mr. Secretary General, the assurances of my highest consideration.

For the Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi

Eugene NDAHAYO
President

September 1, 2010   3 Comments

Australian Geoff Tooth named High Commissioner to Rwanda

Kigali – The Australian government on Tuesday named its envoy to Rwanda as it extends the promise to expand the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The Australian Foreign Ministry announced that Mr. Geoff Tooth will be the High Commissioner to Rwanda, but based in Kenya.

The naming of an envoy to Kigali comes after Rwanda joined the 54-nation Commonwealth block in November last year.

Ex-Rwanda Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali was in Australia in July last year to dram-up support for Rwanda’s bid to join the English block in which Australia plays a central role. In return, Rwanda promised to support Australia’s bid for a seat on UN Security Council.

The new envoy Mr. Tooth will have concurrent accreditation to Kenya, Burundi, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. Mr Tooth will as well be Australia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).

Australia’s merchandise and services trade with Kenya and other East African countries is modest but growing, with increasing opportunities for the export of Australian educational services, according to the government there.

Australian investment in East Africa’s minerals and petroleum resources industry is significant and there is much potential for further growth. There are more than 150 Australian companies with projects spread across 40 African countries. There is an estimated US$20 billion in current and prospective Australian investment in the African resources sector.

Mr. Tooth has had long career in the Australian foreign service.

Rwanda has Mr Michael J Roux as its Honorary Consul-General in Australia.

September 1, 2010   No Comments

UN report adds to President Sarkozy’s woes by threatening a “barter trade” arrangement with General Paul Kagame of Rwanda

Photo op Nicolas Sarkozy with Gen. Kagame et his generals, all indicted by French Justice for crimes against humanity (feb. 2010)

Photo op: Nicolas Sarkozy with UN genocide suspects Gen. Kagame et his generals, all indicted by French Justice for crimes against humanity (feb. 2010)

A 600 page report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on crimes and human rights violations perpetrated during the Congo wars from 1996 to 2003, leaked to the press Thursday 26th August,  has concluded that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s and Congolese President Laurent Kabila’s forces against Hutus and that some of them were systematic, methodical and over a long period that they could constitute ‘crimes of genocide.’ The Rwandan forces were the spearhead of the forces that overthrew President Mobutu, after being disowned by his western backers,  and controlled the security apparatus of the State: army, intelligence and Police.

It is obvious that the report will embarrass General Kagame’s close allies and it is also a big blow to the efforts of the French President Sarkozy and his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to get commercial favour from General Kagame.  It is hard to see how the French government would continue to push for favour from a regime alleged by a UN report to have committed a crime of genocide. This could in turn slow down the implementation of some of the terms of the agreement reached during Sarkozy visit to Rwanda in February 2010.  It is reported that the political moves used to renew relations with the RPF government have divided the political class in France and infuriated the military. Given the past relations between Rwanda and France, to continue courting General Kagame would put France  at risk of being accused once again of working with a leadership that has committed crimes of genocide.

The situation is going to be exploited by the Socialist party which Sarkozy accused of having made an error of judgment by helping the late President Habyarimana who was accused of having “planned” genocide against Tutsi in 1994.

Summer scandals

This summer has not been particularly good for the French President who had wanted to distinguish himself from his predecessor by presenting himself as a person of integrity and probity.  The puncture in the strategy came about when a French prosecutor started an investigation to establish whether Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of the L’Oréal fortune, had made illegal donations amounting to $190,000 in campaign for Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential election in 2007.

Two members of his government resigned over allegations of misuse of public funds. They included the heads of the Secretary of State of Cooperation and the Secretary of State for the Greater Paris region.

In June 2010, the National Football Team was disgracefully knocked out of the world cup following disagreement within the team.  What happened at the world cup was widely seen in France as a disgrace for the image of France.

The summer also witnessed the trial of the alleged €5bn rogue trader, Jerome Kerviel within the biggest and the most lucrative office development in Europe, La Défense.  To compound the scandal, last year, its political leadership was almost given to Jean Sarkozy a 23-year-old law student, son of President Sarkozy.

Despite President Sarkozy being an ‘immigré’ himself from Hungary he embarked on the policy of expulsion of the Roma, allegedly to divert attention from the financial scandals. This followed a proposed change in the law on citizenship to make it possible to strip a non indigenous of nationality if he/she committed a crime.  All these measures allegedly intended to divert attention from his financial scandals are said to be have backfired by being used by political rivals to discredit him.

Deals with General Paul Kagame for the share in the mineral wealth of the Great Lakes Region

The Central Africa Region including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, and Congo Brazzaville had been for a long time the exclusive area of influence of France. The seizure of power by the RPF in Rwanda, with the support of the main rivals of France i.e. the US and the UK, led to the fall of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the same sphere of influence, thus opening the DRC mineral resources to Anglo American interests.
American and Canadian companies signed mining concessions with Kabila before Kinshasa had felled to the Rwandan forces carrying the AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo) shoulder high to Kinshasa. Kigali has become the gateway to the vast mineral resources of Eastern DRC.

Since coming to power in 2007, President Sarkozy, under the strong influence of his Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner who is said to be a long term friend of General Paul Kagame, has been trying to do everything in his power to renew diplomatic relations with Rwanda in order to get at least some crumbs of minerals from the rich man’s table i.e. US, UK firms.
Aware that General Kagame is the gatekeeper to DRC minerals and eying the gas project in Lake Kivu jointly owned by Rwanda and the DRC, the French government decided to sweep under the carpet the killing of its citizens by the RPF soldiers in 1994 and even to grant bail to President Kagame’s Chief of Protocol Major Rose Kabuye who is alleged to be part of the plot to eliminate them. Major Rose Kabuye is accused with other RPF officers for being involved in the shooting down of the plane that was carrying late President Habyarimana of Rwanda, an act that is considered by the UN to have triggered genocide. Ms. Rose Kabuye is back to Rwanda and is said to have been at the Airport to welcome the French Foreign Minister on his mission to prepare his President’s visit.

Alleged barter trade arrangements

The warming in relations between Rwanda and France were marked by the visit of the French President to Rwanda on the 25th of February 2010. The visit lasted 3 hours. It is reported that Sarkozy was accompanied by a good number businessmen.

In an interview, President Sarkozy and General Kagame, without providing specifics, said they had agreed on extensive cooperation in trade, investment, education, health and cultural exchanges.

It is alleged that behind the scenes were some arrangement of a “barter trade” where France would arrest and hand over to Rwanda a list of people accused by Kigali of having masterminded the 1994 genocide in return for commercial favours for the French business community.  It was alleged that on top of the shopping list was the widow of late President Habyarimana. Whereas it was not possible to hand over the suspects, they would be disabled in their alleged activities against Rwanda, by arresting them and trying them in France.

This speculation was given weight by the arrest, soon after the visit, of the widow of late President Habyarimana though given bail thereafter.

Sarkozy woe:  hope for traumatized Rwandans living in France?

With the UN report on what happened to Hutu refugees in the DRC and hoping that the shelved reports on various crimes committed by the RPF in Rwanda i.e. Gersony report, one would hope that the French government would think twice before going ahead with endearing itself to a government alleged to have committed acts of genocide.

Gersony Report” is the name that has been given to unpublished 1994 findings made by a team commissioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees under Robert Gersony to investigate alleged violation of human rights in Rwanda under the RPF. Part of the findings are said to mention that from April and August 1994, the RPF had killed “between 25,000 and 45,000 persons; that RPF killed between 5,000 and 10,000 persons each month from April through July and 5,000 for the month of August. It is alleged that the findings were suppressed by the United Nations and the RPF government for political reasons. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gersony_Report)

With UN report in hand, President Sarkozy will have an interest in proving himself better than his predecessors whom  he accused of “errors of judgment” to support the Rwandan government when it was violating human rights and during genocide. He had added in the interview that there was “a sort of blindness” on the part of the French government which prevented it from seeing “the genocidal aspect of the government of the President who was assassinated”. He is reported to have said: “What happened here is unacceptable, but what happened here compels the international community, including France, to reflect on the mistakes that stopped it from preventing and halting this abominable crime.  If President Sarkozy is sincere it is hoped that in order to prevent any other violence of the same magnitude happening his government should work with other governments in order to ensure that the UN report is acted  upon so that perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the DRC face the law.

Let us hope that if ever there was a secret “barter trade” deal between President of France and General Kagame to exchange Rwandans on the shopping list of General Paul Kagame in return for commercial deals, the implementation would be stopped because that would be handing over “suspected genocidaires” to other “suspected genocidaires”. I also hope that given the nature of the regime in Rwanda there is no more risk to Rwandan ‘immigrés’ who have acquired the French nationality to be stripped of their French nationality under the proposed law on nationality using the evidence produced by a government which is accused of being involved in committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible crimes of genocide.

September 1, 2010   No Comments