UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations has agreed to the appointment of a Rwandan general as deputy commander of the Darfur force, saying there was not enough evidence against him to support allegations of human rights abuses.
Maj. Gen. Karenzi Karake has taken up his position in Darfur to help supervise formation of the joint African Union-U.N. force. Rwanda fields some 2,000 of the 7,000 AU troops now in Darfur.
U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said on Monday the appointment was on track because “there was not enough evidence for anything to change” after some Rwandan opposition groups had been asked to support allegations by Rwandan exiles.
The African Union, which approved Karake (right) last month, and the United Nations, which had said it was investigating, did not “want to exclude the candidate on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations,” Montas said.
The Brussels-based United Democratic Forces, a Rwandan exile group, had accused Karake of supervising extra-judicial killings of civilians before and after the Rwanda Patriotic Front took power in Rwanda following the 1994 Genocide. In 1994, Hutu extremists killed about one million Rwandans, mainly Tutsis.
The Rwandan Foreign Ministry has lambasted the group’s group as “an amalgamation of extremist fugitives known for their genocide ideology and hostility against the Government.” Karenzi, 46, who has since been the President of Rwanda’s Military Tribunal and Commander of the Fourth Military Division, arrived in Darfur on Sunday.
The commander of the 26,000-strong joint force is Gen. Martin Agwai of Nigeria.
The force aims to protect civilians in Darfur, where more than 2.5 million people have fled their homes and an estimated 200,000 have died in the conflict in the past four years.