Maj. Gen. Karenzi Karake has been appointed deputy chief commander of the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur. He will be deputizing Gen. Martin Agway, a Nigerian.
There can be no louder approbation for Rwanda than appointing one of its senior military officers to such a prestigious position. It has been fairly earned all the way, since Rwanda is one of the countries that dedicated its resources to keep the peace in Darfur under an African Union mandate, Sudan having earlier rejected any other external involvement.
While there, Rwanda has executed its mandate in a highly disciplined manner, its troops drawing praise and winning the confidence not only of the international community, but the local populace as well.
Darfur and Rwanda share some common ground – a people who have suffered Genocide and have been terrorised, raped, traumatised in all sorts of unimaginable ways. Rwanda is out of it now and is healing, and it is this that it wishes for Darfur.
It is commendable that unlike Rwanda’s UNAMIR which only had to contend against Chapter 6 that Gen. Dallaire Romeo could not buck, Karake’s AU-UN mandate, working under Chapter 7 is much stronger.
The difference between these two is that the latter empowers the peacekeepers to enforce the peace by force of arms if necessary when it appears to be threatened, which Dallaire could not do.
Drawing from such similar lessons from close to home will help stand Agway and Karake in good stead when executing their duties.
It is to the UN’s credit that that erstwhile body has learnt something from the 1994 Rwanda debacle and has, albeit belatedly, passed a strong resolution that can be of real benefit to the suffering people of Darfur, and perhaps to other suffering areas in the world in general. No half-measures this time as was the case here.
The AU-UN’s confidence was not misplaced in Karake. He has impeccable academic and military credentials. He has vast experience in military leadership in conflict-torn areas having played key part during the Rwandan liberation struggle.
He led a team of the then RPA rebels to, first, the Kigali-based OAU Neutral Military Observer Group (NMOG) and later, UNAMIR, during the early days of the liberation struggle.
And for the past thirteen years, he has remained an outstanding officer within the national army, holding key positions and undergoing various senior trainings in military.
Carry on the positive legacy of your country, Karake. Rwanda stands fully behind you.