“I am innocent and ready to prove it”
KICUKIRO - It was all joy and happiness and many could not hold their tears as Rose Kabuye, alighted from the Ethiopian Flight ET-AMU that touched down at Kigali International Airport at 3:32pm.
Dressed in a Pink blazer and grey trousers, a healthy and radiant Kabuye emerged from the Ethiopian carrier flanked by her husband and two children, to the ululations of the waiting crowd that had patiently waited for over 9 hours outside the airport. Her blazer almost shaped like a rose flower, could easily be symbolic of her name.
As she moved with grace she strolled towards the welcoming party made up mainly of women parliamentarians, leaders and family members, a smiling Kabuye could not hold back the joy of being home again.
Typical of her positive attributes; warm, charismatic and an extrovert, she embraced everybody with the trademark smile on her face, hardly a picture of a woman who in recent weeks made world headlines after her detention in Germany and subsequent transfer to France. She was arrested on November 9 in Germany while on official duty on the strength of arrest warrants issued by a French Judge Louis Bruguiere, who accused her and eight other senior officials of allegedly taking part in the shooting down of a plane carrying president Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994.
Kabuye is back home more triumphant after the French courts relaxed her bail conditions making it possible for her to travel to any destination, but only appear in France for court hearings.
The determined Kabuye told the press, “I can’t express my happiness of being home and being with my family again. It’s just a great feeling and I owe this to Rwandans who have stood by my side ever since my arrest. This is not my victory; it’s a victory for Rwanda and Rwandans.”
There could be no bigger Christmas present to Rwandans especially the women who have since braved hardships, setting camp outside the German Embassy in a show of solidarity with one of their own, from the time of her arrest.
Songs of triumph ‘Rose aratashye’ and ‘Iyo Maana dusenga’ were heard loud and clear at the airport, bringing business to a stand still.
Tucked between her two children and husband who had also joined her in France, a beaming Kabuye, told the press that she was confident victory would come even if there’s still much to be completed in the case.
“I am innocent and am ready to prove it…that is why I am not worried at all. Much as I didn’t want to go back, there is need to face the reality of the problem and let the law take its course,” said the defiant Kabuye when asked if she would be going back.
She added that she had seen the charges against her, assuring Rwandans that there was no cause for alarm. She said that she will duly travel back to appear in court on a date yet to be set and meet the French Judges.
Kabuye said that she was grateful to everybody especially Rwandans in and outside the country who relentlessly protested her arrest, mainly seen as a serious infringement on the principle of international jurisdiction and abuse of diplomatic norms by Germany and France.
“I would like to thank all Rwandans for the solidarity they have shown to me and I also take this moment to thank the President for his inspiring visit he paid me during my detention in Germany. He instilled hope and courage in me to fight to the end until I am proven innocent,” She said.
She also extended her thanks to First Lady Jeannette Kagame for being there to play a motherly role to her children during her time in detention and the Rwandan women who left their homes to come and camp at the Germany Embassy until her release.
Kabuye in particular thanked her lawyers for negotiating and making the bail possible and her family which has also been there for her in hard times.
“We never thought this would come to pass, we are happy that she is back even though it has taken long. We were scared about her safety,” said Dr Anthony Kamanzi, an elder brother to Kabuye.
“This is a victory on the part of women who have endured hardships in order to see Rose released and a victory for all Rwandans even though we are looking forward to a bigger victory when she is proven innocent and released to return home as a free woman,” said Speciosa Mukandutiye, the Chairperson of Rwandan women Parliamentarians.
Kabuye is also a former member of parliament who served in the transitional national assembly.
“God has answered our prayers” said Swaleh Habimana, the Mufti of Rwanda, who represented the clergy in welcoming Kabuye.