Kagame dismisses refusal by Spanish PM to meet him
Kigali – President Kagame on Tuesday spoke for the first time about the refusal last week of Spanish PM to meet with him during a meeting of the MDG Advocacy Group in Madrid. The President said he was “caught up between” the internal Spanish politics and “bizarre indictments”, RNA reports.
PM Louis Zapatero cancelled on Friday a scheduled meeting with President Kagame after protests by church groups, campaigners and politicians over the 2008 indictments against 40 Rwandan officials.
Spain was represented instead by Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos at the first meeting of the MDG Advocacy Group set up last month by the United Nations to advance the Millennium Development Goals, which include halving extreme poverty by 2015.
Zapatero has not commented publicly about the issue, but senior officials said he was “sensitive to that and responded” by deciding not to attend the meeting which was attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
For President Kagame, he argued Tuesday that “one or two” Spanish parliamentarians were “arm-twisting” PM Zapatero into deciding not to take part in the meeting. Describing the indictments as “political”, the President told a press conference that he was “caught up between two things”.
“I was caught up between the internal problems of Spain,” Kagame told his audience of largely international press who are in the country for the elections.
“…some people in Spain were arm-twisting the Prime Minister because he is waiting for a vote from them over something that is probably coming up this week or next week.”
“…they said or ‘If you are waiting for our vote, then you better support us on this’…and the man backed-off,” said Kagame, adding: “It was a serious internal matter which I was caught up in.”
In 2008 Spain’s High Court announced its intention to prosecute 40 Rwandan army officers for Genocide, crimes against humanity and terrorism related to events that took place between 1994 and 2000.
Zapatero not superior
President Kagame described these as “bizarre indictments” – which he said were politically motivated, and as among the two things he was caught between.
The meeting in Madrid came ahead of a high-level MDG Advocacy Group summit that will take place at the UN’s headquarters in New York in September which the UN Secretary General indicated will be attended by 150 heads of state.
For President Kagame, the insinuation in the media that because PM Zapatero did not attend the meeting – that makes it less significant, he was more forceful.
“I do not agree that he is a superior Co-chair. We are both Co-chairs…” said Kagame, but preferred to stop continuing – simply saying: “I was going to say something but let me leave it.”
Ugandans also indicted
Responding to the Ugandan journalist who has raised the issue, President Kagame said the Spanish indictments concerned Uganda as well because the RPF grew from there.
He said the charges do not target individuals, instead arguing it was his RPF party as an organization which was targeted by the Spanish judiciary.
“In fact if you read the dossier properly by extension, they indict Uganda because the RPF was created in Uganda. Uganda – according to them, created this group RPF whose main purpose of existence was to come from Uganda, go to Rwanda and kill all the Hutus in Rwanda,” explained Kagame.
“In other words Ugandans created this criminal group,” continued the President.
The indictments allege that Rwandan soldiers killed nine Spanish nuns in Northern Rwanda and some in eastern DR Congo.
President Kagame said French police worked alongside Rwandan counterparts to investigate the case of one of the nuns. “In fact what was found out was that the death of one [of the two nuns] was due to the insurgency at that time in the north,” said Kagame.
“On the second one, there was no conclusion,” he explained. “The Spanish find it ease to say this one was killed by RPF.”
As for the cases of nuns supposedly killed in Congo, the President called them “outrageous”.