Thousands of Rwandans protest France and Germany
A Rwandan official’s arrest in Germany on a French warrant sparks anger in the capital.
13 November 2008
KIGALI - Thousands of people protested against France and Germany in the streets of Kigali on Wednesday as a diplomatic conflict caused by the arrest of a senior Rwandan official in Frankfurt escalated.
The Rwandan capital's third consecutive day of demonstrations comes a day after the German ambassador was ordered to leave following the arrest of President Paul Kagame's chief of protocol Rose Kabuye.
African organisations joined Kigali in condemning the arrest, conducted on a French warrant over Kabuye's suspected involvement in the assassination of the former president, Juvenal Habyarimana, which is considered the trigger of the 1994 genocide.
A few thousand demonstrators, mainly women, marched from the French school and cultural centre to the German embassy, an AFP correspondent reported.
Several members of parliament were among the demonstrators.
Several thousand people took part in a demonstration on Monday when all public offices and private businesses were closed in protest, followed Tuesday by a smaller rally.
"Rwanda's ambassador to Germany was recalled today for consultations," Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Tuesday, adding that Berlin's ambassador was given 48 hours to leave the country.
The German foreign ministry said Christian Clages was expected to leave Rwanda on Thursday and said he hoped to return to his post soon.
Rwanda broke ties with France in November 2006 after French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere issued the warrants against Kabuye and eight other Kagame aides.
Kabuye already travelled to Germany in April without problem.
German officials said she was arrested Sunday because she was on private business, though Rwanda insisted the purpose of her visit was official.
Rwanda complained that France and other European countries are pursuing the victims of the genocide, which the United Nations says killed at least 800,000 people, rather than the perpetrators.
"You cannot have France or any other country thinking it has the right to exercise its judicial powers beyond its borders to cover other sovereign entities," Kagame said outside a telecommunications conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
In 1994, the plane of Rwanda's Hutu president Habyarimana was shot down. Soon after, Hutu militias launched a massacre of the country's minority Tutsi and moderate Hutus which the international community failed to stop.
When Bruguiere probed the role of then-rebel leader Kagame in Habyarimana's death, Rwanda responded with a 500-page report accusing France of actively supporting the people responsible for the genocide.
On Tuesday, judicial sources in Kigali announced that the Rwandan courts were prepared to issue arrest warrants against 23 French military and political officials over their role in the genocide.
Thirty-three officials are named in the August report, including the late president Francois Mitterrand and former premier Dominique de Villepin.
"The indictments are being finalised, the arrest warrants can be issued any time from now," a senior justice official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The African Union issued a statement on Tuesday criticising Kabuye's arrest, as did the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
[AFP / Expatica]