Three days after five Rwandan peacekeepers died in two separate deadly attacks in Sudan’s war torn Darfur region, President Paul Kagame has said the incidents will not affect Rwanda’s relations with Sudan.
Appearing on Contact FM, a local radio station yesterday, the President pointed out that from the history surrounding the attacks, there was no deliberate direct target on Rwanda from Sudan’s side.
“I don’t think every incident that takes place should result into affecting our relations more so when there are issues that have to be investigated and understood before any steps are taken,” the President said.
“There hasn’t been such a situation before-- even though now Rwandan soldiers are the ones that have been targeted or affected,” Kagame added.
Suspicions have been rife in the past three days with questions being raised on the proximity of the deadly ambush to the checkpoint manned by the Sudanese government forces.
But the President emphasized the need to look at the attacks as those affecting the UN-AU hybrid force, UNAMID.
“There is nothing to suggest to me that whoever is behind this was trying to isolate Rwandan participation and soldiers from the mission itself. I don’t think there is anything so far that suggests that,” Kagame said.
“We treat it like that until we get to understand what reasons are behind the incident,” he said
He added that the incident will not divert the attention of the RDF peacekeepers from the mission, and that the soldiers will continue to keep careful watch against any such situations.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Northern Darfur Osman Kebir told Sudan’s state Suna news agency that a number of men had been arrested and would be charged with the first attack that resulted from an ambush as the RDF peacekeepers helped people in collecting water.
Kebir condemned the shooting, saying bandits had started to target UNAMID convoys to try and steal their vehicles.
He said the men had been taken to north Darfur’s capital El Fasher where they would “be presented before a court to receive punishment for their heinous act”.
UNAMID said it was investigating both attacks and said it was too early to say whether they were linked.
Bandit attacks, armed robberies and kidnappings have surged in Darfur more than six years after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Sudan’s government, accusing it of neglecting the western territory.
Sudan’s government mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the uprising, unleashing a wave of violence that Washington and some activists call genocide, a term rejected by Khartoum.
Estimates of the death toll range from 300,000 according to the United Nations, to 10,000 according to Khartoum.