Genocide accusations against Rwanda are 'absurd': Kagame

16th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame Thursday dismissed as "absurd" claims made in a draft UN report that Rwandan troops committed genocide-style massacres in DR Congo in 1996-97.

Speaking to an audience in London, the Rwandan leader elected to a second term as president in August with an official 93 percent of the vote, also rejected criticism of the electoral process.

"The result of the elections in Rwanda were more, actually, due to exercising of freedoms by Rwandans rather than the lack of freedoms," he said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Rwanda was victim in 1994 of one of the worst post-World War II acts of genocide when up to 800,000 people from its minority Tutsi population and moderate Hutus, were slaughtered in massacres carried out by Hutu extremist militias.

Those killings were ended by the intervention of rebel forces led by Kagame.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently flew to Rwanda to discuss a leaked draft report prepared for the United Nations which accuses Rwandan forces of acts of genocide in their pursuit of Hutu extremists and others into DR Congo in the years that followed.

He has offered to include the comments by Rwanda and other countries in the final version of the report which is to be released on October 1.

"To accuse Rwandan forces or Rwanda of committing genocide in the Congo, or anywhere for that matter, after what happened in our country, is just absurd," Kagame said on Thursday.

He dismissed the accusations as "baseless and totally untrue, fraudulent in many ways."

The Rwandan leader, admired by many outside his country for rebuilding a nation torn by conflict, criticised the UN and questioned the motives of the report's authors.

"If there was anything to be questioned about the many things that have gone wrong in the Congo or the Great Lakes region, or even in Rwanda, it should have been the UN," Kagame said.

"Since 1994, we have focused on the challenge of nation-building. We have effected, and implemented, policies that foster national unity, promote reconciliation, peace and security and law. We have set out to build a nation of laws and institutions," he added.

The Rwandan leader praised a recent improvement in relations between Rwanda and the neighbouring DR Congo, saying this had led to significant improvements in security and trade.

"We have tremendously improved the relationship with the DRC and Rwanda and that is still ongoing," he said.

The governments of Kigali and Kinshasa were now conducting joint military operations in eastern Congo and ministers and officials from the two countries were meeting regularly, he said.

In a combative performance, he also dismissed criticism from the group Human Rights Watch about the lack of "genuine political competition and debate" in the recent election.

After saying that the election result was reflective of Rwandans' wishes, he added: "We probably need freedom from Human Rights Watch... Rwandans have no problems of freedom."

© 2010 AFP

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