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.