Rwanda's Kagame backs Libya action

23rd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rwandan President Paul Kagame backed the international coalition action in Libya, saying lessons had been learned from the genocide in his country, in a comment piece in the Times newspaper Wednesday.

But Kagame also urged the African Union -- which has called for an immediate halt to the US, British and French strikes against Moamer Kadhafi's forces -- to "respond faster" to similar situations.

"No country knows better than my own the costs of the international community failing to intervene to prevent a state killing its own people. In the course of 100 days in 1994, a million Rwandans were killed by government-backed 'genocidaires' and the world did nothing to stop them," Kagame wrote.

"So it is encouraging that members of the international community appear to have learnt the lessons of that failure. Through UN Resolution 1973 we are seeing a committed intervention to halt the crisis that was unfolding in Libya."

The Rwandan leader said that had the coalition not launched its airstrikes against Kadhafi's forces then "hundreds of thousands of lives could well have been lost."

But he added that the African Union's response was "slow and in the end overtaken by events on the ground."

"From the African perspective there are important lessons to learn, the main one being that we as the African Union need to respond faster and more effectively to situations such as these," Kagame wrote.

The Rwandan president's comments were published two days after the African Union's panel on Libya, composed of five African heads of state, called for an "immediate stop" to all attacks on Libya.

Separately Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Monday accused the West of twisting the meaning of a UN resolution imposing a no-fly zone on Libya.

Three African countries -- Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa, all non-permanent members of the UN Security Council -- voted for the UN resolution.

The Arab League also announced its support for the measure.

© 2011 AFP

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