EVENTS unfolding recently between Kigali and New York should not be seen merely as a simple case of the UN making accusations against the conduct of Rwandan forces in the DR Congo.
It is about an African sovereign state questioning the rationale behind the decision- making process at the world body. Indeed the latest spat between Rwanda and the UN should be seen as just one among the very many African voices that have been calling for the radical surgery of the entire UN system.
While Rwanda, in the interest of Pan-Africanism to send a peacekeeping contingent to Darfur, it did not escape observers that Kigali did not have a high regard to the military doctrines of the peacekeeping operations at the UN. Rwanda has learnt, from its bitter experience with UNAMIR, the type of decision making processes and red tape involved with the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping operations (DPKO).
Rwandans cannot forget that, when Genocide against Tutsi started, the UN system was slow to condemn it.
Fast forward to post Genocide Rwanda in 1997. Rwandan forces having managed against great odds to halt the Genocide, find that the fleeing Genocidaires are now camped only a short distance from the Rwandan border.
With international media focusing its attention on the Kivu refugee camps, the UN moves in to prop up the Genocidaire state that is the Kivu refugee camps. Let us not forget that while huge UN assistance was being poured into the Kivu camps, there was no form of similar support for people inside Rwanda, who were desperate for assistance, from the very same UN.
With time, the genocidaires started in 1996 to mount raids into Rwanda to finish off the job they had sought to do in 1994.The raids went unchecked despite repeated complaints from Kigali about the failure of the international community to stop such acts.
By 1997 it dawned upon Kigali that the UN was not going to do anything to sort out the raids from the Kivu camps. Many observers see the UN as complicit in the acts of aggression against Rwanda by the genocidaires .For one, the locations of the UN refugee camps in the Kivus ran contrary to the set international conventions.
The refugee camps were meant to have been located far way from the common border. Secondly, refugees are not allowed to bear arms. The genocidaires escaped with all their arms into the camps but they weren’t disarmed.
At around the same time, the genocidaires embarked on killing Tutsi communities in Zaire in a fashion that resembled their well planned enterprise in Rwanda. Genocidaire leaders, while talking to the media at this precarious moment within the region, were forthright that war was inevitable.
What was Kigali supposed to do? At this time everybody knew that given such sentiments it was just a matter of time before the entire Great Lakes region of Africa would be engulfed into a much bigger conflict. When Rwandan troops invaded the refugee camps to flush out the genocidaires, those who cared to know the implications would be extremely complex.
For the UN to turn around in 2010 and say that the very Rwandan troops, which are the major contributors to its peace keeping operations in Darfur, are genocidal, at a time when the UN is under attack for the recent mass rape of children and women in the DRC, as its own forces stood by, only goes a long way to show that the world body is simply looking for a scapegoat to divert the attention of the world condemnation for its own negligence.
Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah is an Editor, The New Times