Friday, 1st August 2008
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Deserting Darfur is not our intention – Kagame

President Kagame speaks with journalists at the monthly press conference at Village Urugwiro.


VILLAGE URUGWIRO – President Kagame, during the usual Presidential Press conference at ‘Village Urugwiro yesterday, stressed that withdrawing Rwanda’s peacekeepers from Darfur was not an option given the humanitarian crisis there. Kagame explained that instead of what recent media reports implied, Rwanda’s threatening Darfur pull–out, the government was instead working on equipping the peace force better. We are working on equipping our troops because I think the mission and the purpose of the mission has great importance in as far as the lives of people who are affected in Darfur are concerned,” he said “we just wouldn’t start by abandoning them.” He added that there was no excuse, saying, “It’s not good to just keep saying ‘if there isn’t this am going away because that would belittle the importance of the mission, I don’t think that is what anybody intends to do,” said the president. Kagame pointed out that there were two ways of finding the equipment; “One is what could be provided by the UN using the countries that have means,” he said and the second being, “ourselves working on equipping our own troops.” In a report entitled “Grounded: the International Community’s Betrayal of UNAMID” released Thursday, an international coalition of activists in a report listed able governments around the world which failed to provide even one of the additional helicopters needed for peacekeeping in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region. Rwanda has about 2600 troops serving in the UNAMID force. Kagame also said that Rwanda did not give an ultimatum to pull out if  Maj. Gen Emmanuel Karake Karenzi’s contract as the deputy force commander of UNAMID  was not extended. “That is not true,” he said “what we did was, we linked it with Karenzi’s indictment.”

Karenzi is among people indicted by a Spanish judge for alleged war crimes, an issue that has caused the UN to hesitate renewing his contract. “First of all, we have a problem with the indictments in a general sense but also with the UN, a body we belong to that should try to be fair to all its members and which is behind the establishment of the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda).” He said the tribunal deals with Rwanda’s cases had not found any indications of the allegations yet the UN goes “beyond their own institution which they established,”  “They listen or base their decision on what a French or Spanish judge is saying about somebody from a member country before they put them to work. That itself is strange, and we made this clear to them,” Kagame said. The president wondered how the UN would ensure “fair and equitable justice across member countries” given the present scenario. He wondered whether,  a judge was to find a list of French implicated in Rwanda’s Genocide , the UN would behave in the same way.

“Removal of Karenzi on these grounds is not only unfair or even an injustice to Karenzi himself. It’s actually an offence and injustice to Rwanda. Our reaction would not just depend on Karenzi as a person and his removal or how he is treated, it will come from how we are being treated in the general context and in relation to these indictments,” he added. “Of course it is not overstretching or overreaching ourselves,” he stressed, pointing out that it was all about, “fighting for our rights and you will not find us wanting on that.”.