• Kabuye returns to France
In a wide ranging interview with Stephen Sackur on BBC’s political talk-show, Hard Talk, aired yesterday, President Paul Kagame, dismissed western arrogance towards African countries. Which he said was based on naivety– if not ignorance – on the part of the West, “on what goes on in Africa particularly in my country (Rwanda).”
Kagame had been in the UK at the invitation of the City of London Corporation to participate in an investment forum, for East Africa.
He later spoke at the Oxford union and also met with the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, as well as British government officials, Minister for Africa, Mark Malloch-Brown and Foreign secretary David Milliband.
Sackur’s questions ranged from the eastern DRC conflict, to the arrest warrants against senior Rwandan officials, and the status of former rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.
On the issue of the indictements against Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, Kagame said he, like many African leaders, had no trust in the International Criminal Court independence.
The running thread of Sackur’s line of questioning seemed to centre on fears, largely to do with Rwanda, “flexing its regional muscle.”
On the return to Paris, France of the Director of State Protocol, Rose Kabuye, to answer to charges based on indictments brought about by French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière.
President Kagame responded that all along the charges brought against Kabuye and eight other government officials were just ‘a farce’.
Kabuye, who has already been to and from Paris twice since last December, returned to Paris yesterday to face French judges.
Kagame’s response to the indictments was, “the file is empty, there is nothing in it” adding that Kabuye’s case would vindicate Rwanda that the charges were trumped up.
This is against a background of continued reports that the case built by former Judge Bruguière, was on the verge of collapse. It has been reported in the French media, that Prosecutors there have confessed to facing a challenge of loopholes in Bruguière’s case.
Among the issues at hand which punch credibility into this case, is the withdrawal of star witness former Lieutenant Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza, including other internal politics within the French political administration, from the time of Bruguière’s case to present.
Responding to questions on the eastern DRC conflict President Kagame emphasized that regional peace and security were the major priorities.
The peace process in the eastern DRC reached its peak last year, after the Congolese and Rwandan governments set up a joint operation to rout out the genocidal, Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels from that region.
The successful operation ‘Umoja Wetu’ has so far seen the repatriation of over 7000 former FDLR rebels and civilians, to Rwanda.
Commenting on the success of this mission, President Kagame said, “ We really broke the back of the FDLR, that was in the Congo, something very important was the support of the population in the eastern Congo.”
However, Sackur raised concerns over recent UN reports that the FDLR rebels have started regrouping and taking over villages again, President Kagame, did not rule out any possibility of further cooperation with his Congolese counterparts, but would only do so “if the government of Congo wants us to work with them to go to deal with that part of the problem.”
In an apparent bid to further pin President Kagame to the conflict in the eastern DRC, Sackur also sought clarity on the status of former rebel leader of the now disbanded, National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).
Kagame reminded Sackur that there is a historical and regional context within which the Nkunda’s case should be dealt, “I am not confining myself to Laurent Nkunda and you are pushing it as if Nkunda is the problem, we decide that when the times comes with the DRC in a much wider context than just Nkunda. We are looking at issues we are trying to achieve in terms of peace and stability.”
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Rosemary Museminali, last week announced that she was set to meet her Congolese counterparts, at the end of March, as part of the high level “four plus four” bilateral sessions, made up of the two countries representatives, from Foreign Affairs, Defence and Intelligence. Among the issues to be discussed as reported last week by The New Times, is Nkunda’s fate.
In this regard President Kagame was very forthright with Sackur, after further probing; “Nkunda if you will, is our guest. It is mainly the duty of the Congolese and ourselves to decide how to resolve the problem.”
Kagame also poured scorn on a report released late last year that Rwanda was supporting the CNDP. He charged that the UN, “has done more damage to the situation than anybody could do. They were the ones providing arms to genocidaires in the Congo in exchange of minerals. Did anybody question that?” he wondered.
He called for support towards the joint efforts between Rwanda and DRC in dealing with underlying problems that have caused the conflict.