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AU to protest genocide report

Saturday September 18 2010

Rwandan President Paul Kagame answers reporter's questions during a news conference. PHOTO/ FILE

Rwandan President Paul Kagame answers reporter's questions during a news conference. PHOTO/ FILE  

By WALTER MENYA [email protected]

The African Union is tipped to use the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly to force amendments on the report that accuses Rwanda of alleged genocide.

The session that gets under way on Monday in New York has been rocked by the leaking of the report linking Rwanda troops to genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN was left with egg on its face after the contents of the 600-page draft report was leaked, prompting the secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to fly to Rwanda to ease tensions.

Rwanda has demanded that the document be amended. And the UN has delayed its publication until October 1, ostensibly to allow countries opportunity to comment on its contents.

Was the leak deliberate? If it was then why did Mr Ban rush to Rwanda? For a document with such weighty contents to be leaked, someone had a score to settle with President Paul Kagame and Rwandans.

Former ambassador Prof Dick Kikaya believes the leak may not have been deliberate.

“In the current period of freedom of information, one cannot be too tight with information,” Prof Kikaya pointed out.

Exposed UN

Another former ambassador and Masinde Muliro University don, Prof Frank Matanga, says the leak has exposed the UN and left it with no option but to cause the amendments as demanded by Rwanda.

The recognition of Rwanda’s growing importance in African affairs, Prof Kikaya added, should provide a good starting point to mobilise the AU block to demand tighter structures to forestall any future leaks.

“The burden is on Rwanda’s diplomatic corps to lobby the African caucus to give its position on this matter,” he added.

Rwanda’s growing importance in the continent since the genocide in 1994 can be seen in its peace efforts in the region.

It currently has 3300 peacekeeping force and 86 police serving with a joint UN and African Union force (Unamid) in the troubled western Sudanese region of Darfur. It is led by Rwandan Lt Gen Patrick Nyamyumba.

Another 256 troops serve with the UN Mission in Sudan (Unmis), which is supporting the implementation of a peace deal between north and south.

“Rwanda was the first country to send troops to a very treacherous place to monitor implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It therefore pioneered the African-based force,” Prof Kikaya pointed out.

Instead of bashing Rwanda, the UN should be thanking the country for evolving African-based peace keeping in the continent, added Prof Kikaya.

Though other African states have been mentioned in the report, Rwandan troops and their Congolese rebel allies have been singled out on allegations of killing tens of thousands of Hutus, including civilians.

They were supposedly killed when the largely Tutsi Rwandan army invaded DRC in pursuit of those responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

It reads in part: “The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report... reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide.”

Angola who also sent its troops to DRC is also mentioned in the leaked report.

When the details of the leaked report emerged, President Kagame threatened to withdraw the troops from Sudan. Immediately, Mr Ban flew to Kigali to urge Rwanda to rethink its position.

On the threat by Rwanda, the UN also moved swiftly to cancel the report’s publication until two weeks from now. And the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly presents Rwanda and the AU opportunity to push through amendments to the report.

Prof Matanga believes that it depends on how Rwanda’s both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy plays out.

“I am sure there are a lot of consultations going on and chances are that the AU will go for nothing short of amendments as demanded by Rwanda,” notes Prof Matanga.

Die with Rwanda

He adds that in the same way AU defended Kenya over the hosting of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, the organisation “will die with Rwanda”.

The Central African state was hit with genocide in 1994 in one of the worst post-World War II marked by the extermination of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

An estimated 800,000 people from the minority Tutsi population and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in massacres carried out by Hutu extremist militias, the Intarahamwe.