DARFUR - The United States government has cleared Rwandan Major General Karenzi Karake of war crimes allegations and repeated its call to have his contract extended in Darfur.
Karenzi is the deputy force commander of the African Union/UN hybrid peacekeeping force in the Sudanese region of Darfur, UNAMID.
The UN Secretary General has not yet renewed his contract as he automatically did for the force commander and other senior officers of UNAMID.
The reasons behind the delay are because a Spanish judge indicted Gen. Karenzi and several other Rwandan military officers for war crimes. The claims have been dismissed by the government which says the indictments were biased and politically motivated.
In an effort to defuse the crisis, the UN had suggested that Rwanda replace Karenzi with another officer of its choosing, but the offer was turned down.
It instead Kigali sent a signal to the UN threatening to review its deployment in Darfur if Karenzi’s contract was not renewed.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rosemary Museminali, Friday told The New Times that the government had sent a message to the UN that it might review its deployment in Darfur if the issue was not resolved soon.
“We have communicated to the UN and strongly stressed that we will review over level of participation in the peacekeeping mission,” said Museminali.
“The Spanish indictments are based on hearsay and information collected from genocidaires. It is quite insulting that 14 years down the road, accusations are made against someone like Karenzi who is among people who laid down their lives to put an end to the Genocide while the world turned its back,” the minister said.
The acting State Department Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos announced that the US had reviewed the General’s case even before he was deployed to Sudan and found that there was no basis for the allegations. He instead praised Karenzi’s performance and that of the Rwandan contingent as a whole.
“Rwandan peacekeepers in Darfur are noted for their professionalism and courage. Five of them were recently killed in the line of duty. Losing four Rwandan battalions would devastate the operation. It’s in the interest of a strong UNAMID that this general continue as deputy force commander, given his strong record of performance over the last year,” said Gallegos.
The Washington post Thursday reported that the Us Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had sent a message to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon which read; “the U.S. government urges the renewal of Karenzi’s contract without discrimination.”
Rwanda has over 2,500 troops deployed in the peacekeeping mission.