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EDITORIAL: What was behind the recalled diplomats’ gesture?

Yesterday coincided with the 26th anniversary of the liberation of Kabgayi which briefly served as the headquarters of the fleeing Genocidal government. It was also the seat of the Catholic Church in Rwanda and for that reason was under media scrutiny.

For the few Tutsis who had survived massacres in the surrounding areas, Kabgayi became their best sanctuary because the Genocidaires dared not commit mass murder in front of cameras. The best they could do was to select a few every night to be taken and killed.


Before the interim government fled to Kabgayi, they had unleashed terror in Kigali which took many, beginning on April 7, 1994 with Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and ten Belgian peacekeepers who were assigned to guard her.


A memorial was erected at Camp Kigali where the peacekeepers were killed and every year, on April 7, a function takes place there to honour them. Last year it was Prime Minister Charles Michel himself who graced the ceremony.


So, it does not come as a surprise to learn that two senior Belgian diplomats had been recalled for breaking with the norm in what could be interpreted as making a political statement, a stale one.

This year, instead of holding the ceremony the day the peacekeepers were killed, the diplomats held it a day earlier, the day President Juvenal Habyarimana was killed. It is the same date Rwandan exiles, genocide sympathisers and some implicated in the Genocide commemorate, Coincidence?

Whatever the case, it was a diplomatic faux pas that merits not merely recalling the said diplomats; an official public apology is in order as it was not a snub at the government only, but a smack in the face of Genocide survivors.

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