KIGALI - THE United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, left the country, yesterday, after holding talks with President Paul Kagame and other Government officials over a UN report alleging that Rwandan troops could have committed human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ban visited Rwanda after the controversial report was leaked and angered the Government of Rwandan Government, which has since promised to withdraw its peacekeeping troops from all UN missions, if the report is published as it is.
Speaking to the media at Kigali International Airport, shortly before departing, Ban said that he was disappointed that the report was leaked and that his visit was aimed at holding talks with the Rwandan government so that the country can express its concerns which will be considered before the report is published.
“I decided to visit Kigali at this time to speak directly with President Kagame and his government about their concern regarding the report commissioned by the Office of the Human Rights of the United Nations,” Ban said.
“Both the President and I are disappointed that the draft report had been leaked. The United Nations is interested in establishing all the facts relating to DRC uncovered by this mapping exercise.”
The Secretary General said that he “carefully listened” to Rwanda’s concerns about the report during his meeting with President Kagame Wednesday morning and Foreign affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo on Tuesday.
“I have encouraged President Kagame and the Rwandan Government and all concerned countries to submit their comments by the end of this month. Those comments will be released together with the final version of this mapping report simultaneously with the comments from those countries concerned,”
“We have agreed to continue our dialogue on all these issues when President Kagame visits New York later this month. This is an important part of the dialogue the United Nations has with the concerned countries and it will certainly continue,” he added.
Speaking to the press, Minister Mushikiwabo, said that Rwanda maintains its position on the draft report and will carry out “strong actions” if the report remains the way it is. She said Rwanda is ready to submit its position.
“My Government has very simple demands, and that is that our concerns and our worries and indeed our revolt concerning the draft report that was leaked to the media a few weeks, be heard,” she said.
“We are very happy that the Secretary General of the UN thought it was important to come to Kigali and sit with us, so that is what we have discussed. What comes out a month from today, we don’t know. But we want to make sure that our concerns are not ignored,”
She maintained that Rwanda will not hesitate to withdraw its troops once the report comes out as it was when leaked to the media.
“The Government of Rwanda will never accept that the Rwanda Defence Forces be accused of crimes they are not guilty of, and that is the bottom line.” Mushikiwabo said.
The UN official also said that he was pleased to convey his personal congratulations to President Kagame after he was re-elected and inaugurated for a second term in office and wished him continued success.
“I am convinced that under his dynamic and able leadership, Rwanda will continue to prosper and make economic and social development in the years to come,” Ki-moon
Talks on MDGs
Ban also noted that his discussions included Rwanda’s great strides in working towards the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the area of maternal and children’s health.
The UN official briefed President Kagame on the preparations of the MDG summit, slated for next week, in New York. Mr Ban said he was looking forward to President Kagame’s “personal participation”.
President Kagame who co-chairs the MDG advocacy group will chair the second round sessions by the group in New York.
Kagame, on Sunday, hosted more than a dozen African heads of state at Urugwiro village, to an MDG consultative forum to discuss and set the pace for Africa’s participation in the meeting.
“I highly recommended his initiative to convene the African leaders MDG consultative forum just one day before his inauguration as President of Rwanda.” Ki-moon said.
The UN official said that part of his visit was to commend Rwanda’s commitment to the whole UN agenda and in particular, its role in the United Nations peacekeeping operations.
“Rwandan forces are well trained, they are highly disciplined and they are widely respected for their great contribution for peace and security in the region. I strongly urged President Kagame to continue such noble contribution around the world particularly when we are going to see two referenda in Sudan in January next year,” Ban said.
“This will be very important in protecting civilian populations especially women, children and girls. Peacekeeping is a noble cause and I told President Kagame
I hope Rwanda will continue her excellent and indeed exemplary work in support of peace and security in the region.”