Going round the bend

United Nations head honcho Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Kigali last night. He held talks with Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo and should, at this very moment, be sharing tea and biscuits with President Paul Kagame. The topic on the table is the draft UN “mapping” report about alleged atrocities in DR Congo between 1993 – 2003. Rwanda “slammed the report” soon after the draft was leaked on August 26. The government subsequently threatened to withdraw its UN peacekeeping troops from Darfur and elsewhere should the report be published. The UN thought twice and has delayed publication until October 1,

“Following requests, we have decided to give concerned states a further month to comment on the draft,” [said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay]. “I have offered to publish any such comments alongside the report itself.” link

Rwanda is happy about the Ban Ki-Moon visit, but outraged at the report,

“We are very happy that the secretary general thought it was important to come here and discuss this DRC mapping report,” said Louise Mushikiwabo, who met Ban on Tuesday evening shortly after his arrival.

“Our expectations are that he understands why we have rejected this report, it is important that he understands why we are outraged by this report…, which is bound to cause instability in the region.”

“There is no question that, should this report be released as we have seen in a draft version, with its false accusations and without talking to the interested parties, Rwanda will pull out its troops immediately.” link

So, why the picture of a bus hairing round the “small roundabout” in central Kigali at an impossible angle earlier this week? Take a closer look below. What odds would you give this bus of making that corner? And are they any better or worse than Rwanda’s chances of getting the incendiary sections of the report removed?

Photograph originally uploaded to the Kigali Wire Mobypicture account.

14 Responses to “Going round the bend”

  1. Anon says:

    At this stage I am not sure how important it is that the allegations of Genocide are removed from the Report. They have been widely circulated already.

    The reason that the SG has come to Kigali is presumably because he does not want the 3,500 Rwandan troops withdrawn from Darfur and its police from other UN missions. While the rest of the world seems obsessed with criticising Rwanda, it is less keen to provide troops for missions like that where, as in Somalia this week, lives are lost. And whatever may or may not have been done in the DRC in 1996, Rwandan troops have a reputation for discipline (which is why they are in Darfur in the first place).

    I think the SG might be hoping that the chance for Rwanda to add its comments to the (published) Report will be enough to keep the troops in Darfur. I suspect it might not be quite as simple as that.

    If the troops are withdrawn it will be interesting to see if HRW, AI and all the rest will spend any energy trying to persuade other govts to send replacement troops. I very much doubt it.

  2. kigaliwire says:

    The rumour here was that the one month delay was to give the UN time to replace the Darfur troops. I have no idea how long these things take, but I suspect that one month is not enough. Maybe we can expect a further delay with more wrangling.

    I don’t for one minute think Rwanda will be happy just to have their comments added to the report as it stands.

    So, will the UN back down? Or delay the report some more?

  3. Pierre says:

    “At this stage I am not sure how important it is that the allegations of Genocide are removed from the Report. They have been widely circulated already.”

    Which is why they should withdraw those troops immediately.

    The governments that all of a sudden have a problem with Rwanda aren’t going to stop. That is, unless, Rwanda halts its drift towards the Chinese. This, I don’t think, is going to happen, as China offers the best option long term for growth, not only for Rwanda but for Africa as a whole.

    So the break can be made long and painful — or sharp and quick. Remember, these spurned Western powers are not going to stop unless the Rwandan government stops taking the best path available long term for development. So it’s best that the break be a Blitzkrieg action rather than a slow drift. A fast-moving target is always a lot harder to hit than a slow-moving one.

    By the way, the bus musta made it ’round the bend cuz the photographer is alive to tell the tale and post the photo on his blog! 😉

  4. Pierre says:

    I remember in the leaked letter to Ban-Ki Moon from the Rwandan foreign minister that it warned of the immediate withdrawal of Rwandan troops if the contents of the report were leaked or published.

    Well, the report has already been leaked … so why hasn’t the threat been carried out yet? Was it all just bluster?

    Rwandans have to show that they won’t be pushed around like little servant boys. Either the troops are withdrawn post haste or Africans will never escape their position of subservience vis-a-vis the Western neocolonial powers.

    They won’t stop pushing — you can count on that — so we might as well jump now.

    How do you say “jump” in Chinese? 😀

  5. Anon says:

    I would have thought that training/preparing troops for Darfur is more than a one month job. I think i read that Ethiopia had offered replacements but would they be of the same quality quite apart from the need for prep time? I would like to see “the usual suspects” – who think they know best for Rwanda – give us their ideas for a solution. What would HRW do? Who can they whistle up? Criticism is easy but responsibility?

  6. kigaliwire says:

    Ban Ki-Moon statement at Kigali International Airport reveals little:

    “I have encouraged President Kagame and the Rwandan Government and all concerned countries to submit their comments by the end of this month. Those comments will be released together with the final version of this mapping report simultaneously, with the [other] comments received by those countries concerned. We have agreed to continue our dialogue on all these issues when President Kagame visits New York next week.”

    http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=1468

  7. Anon says:

    If the Report alleges that the RPA were guilty of Genocide in 1996 it raises questions as to how they can continue in Darfur but this was 14 years ago and there have been no such complaints about the troops in Darfur. The troops being removed would benefit no one really and it is to be hoped that some sort of settlement can be reached.

    The US has recently built a big new embassy and it is heavily involved in the new airport project. The suggestion that Rwanda will throw its hand in with the Chinese seems unconvincing and may just be the usual tendency of commentators to see everything in a superpower context. The Kigali govt is also a bit too smart for that.

    Press and NGO attempts to destabilise Rwanda – partly orchestrated by opposition abroad – will continue anyway whether the Report is changed or not.

  8. kigaliwire says:

    Which press outlets are trying to destablise Rwanda?

  9. Pierre says:

    “The US has recently built a big new embassy and it is heavily involved in the new airport project. The suggestion that Rwanda will throw its hand in with the Chinese seems unconvincing and may just be the usual tendency of commentators to see everything in a superpower context. The Kigali govt is also a bit too smart for that.”

    They are called SUPER-powers for a reason.

    “Which press outlets are trying to destablise Rwanda?”

    The ones that disseminate the destablizers’ propaganda.

  10. Anon says:

    “Which press outlets are trying to destablise Rwanda?”

    The pre-election period in particular featured a number of (foreign) press articles listing various events and implying that (i) they were linked and that (ii) the govt was responsible when in fact there was no evidence for that. e.g. in The Independent.

    Little or no context was given. It was implied that Umuvugizi was as respected as the NYT and Ingabire as serious as David Cameron (e,g on BBC Newsnight). No explanation for the banning of the papers or the prosecution of Ingabire was given.

    On her return Ingabire said “I am the candidate of the majority”. Everyone knew what this meant i.e. “I am a Hutu. Hutu are the majority. They will vote for me.” It was a call for a return to ethnic politics which are, for good reasons, banned in Rwanda, since before 2003. Neither the Press nor HRW explained this. The reason for this failure is that the coverage has been part of a campaign to smear Rwanda so that Aid is stopped and development frustrated. HRW and other NGOs have tried to do this before (sometimes covertly) and HRW have recently said – on the Guardian website with (as on HRW website) no comments allowed – that they are trying now.

    In its recent report AI said that MDR was banned before the 2003 election as if this was bad and part of prejudicing opposition. MDR had an ethnic constitution which they refused to change. That is why they were banned. AI did not mention this. And then the Press quote freely from AI.

    When HRW described the arrest of Ingabire’s assistant as politically motivated – he later confessed – it showed their support for her and her agenda. They printed something clearly without any research with the intention that people would treat it as fact. Despite this revelation, much of the Press quote HRW releases as if they are fact and give them space to campaign to stop Aid to Rwanda.

    I appreciate that the likes of Daniel Howden of the Independent are trying to cover a whole continent. It is often necessary to just cobble something together from the Internet. As a muzungu he no doubt mixes with other muzungus from NGOs who have an anti-Kigali agenda and would like to decide how Rwanda is developed with more “political space”, more bazungu in 4x4s and less of Kigali’s development because they think they know best. That no doubt reinforces his line.

  11. Anon says:

    Dear (fellow) Anon,

    As a “muzungu”, I find your generalizations offensive. You decry an ethnically-based politics and then proceed to base your argument on ethnic stereotypes – e.g. that white people in Rwanda are essentially syphoning money out of the country (echoing the Nazi vilification of the Jews I might add). Of course, you should be allowed to criticize NGO’s like HRW and Amnesty International and your points about Ingabire’s speech are well worth considering. Just as consideration of why and how the Green Party in Rwanda has been denied registration are well worth considering in my (apparently less worthy, muzungu) opinion. There are many details of the recent history and politics of the Great Lakes that are far from settled. Please note, that I am not disputing the obvious and incontrovertible fact of the 1994 Genocide when I say that. We all need to find a way to talk about these often-tragic events in a respectful way while trying to sort out what has happened. Dismissing people for their muzungu beliefs, whatever that means, is no way to discuss such matters. It smacks of hate speech in a context like Rwanda’s

  12. Anon says:

    “that white people in Rwanda are essentially syphoning money out of the country”
    I did not say that and it is not true but it is a fact that GOR has done more with Aid – and to Rwandan priorities – than would have been the case if it had been handed to CAFOD, OXFAM etc. And that is no doubt a cause of resentment for those NGOs who have since been involved in campaigning against Aid to Rwanda.
    Poorly researched and slanted press coverage of Rwanda is a fact.

  13. Anon says:

    Dear (fellow) Anon,

    Fair enough on your point you did not say that. Although, in a country where, as you say, “I am the candidate of the majority” is code for “I am Hutu”, you can understand how people might be offended by comments about development and 4×4’s. What else did that mean?

    But let’s assume that I was overly sensitive, since that’s a genuine possibility. Your original comment criticized HRW and AI. I might disagree with the position but can understand the criticism, particularly in their seemingly unexamined support of Victoire Ingabire. Your next comment says that the Gov’t of Rwanda spent its money more efficiently than OXFAM & CAFOD (whose acronym I will confess to having looked up, perhaps they don’t have 4×4’s in Kigali). That assertion strikes me as probably true. But what’s the relation? AI & HRW have a particular approach and don’t, as far as I know, engage in many (if any) projects and therefore don’t really get evaluated in terms of efficiency. As far as I know, OXFAM and CAFOD (and a host of other NGO’s operating in Rwanda) have no relationship whatsoever with AI & HRW (or some of the journalist NGO’s that have been critical of the current government of Rwanda). Why would AI & HRW care one bit about OXFAM being shouldered out of its potential niche in Rwanda because it’s not as efficient as the government? How does the government’s efficiency in doing work that NGO’s do in other countries get up the nose of the human rights organizations currently criticizing the government of Rwanda?

    I’m not sure poorly research and slanted press coverage is an established fact but I am quite willing to listen to a detailed argument to that effect.

    Respectfully, Anon

  14. As to the substance of the report, I recently heard some very wise words from an economics consultant and development guru – the UN has its own selfish incentives to call the violence in the Congo a ‘second genocide’. Purposedly much of the ‘evidence’ comes from 2-3 victims who witnessed the atrocities that occurred. Yet the war in the Congo involved multiple states and guerilla groups, many wearing similar camo uniforms – how reliable is evidence coming from emotionally distressed, confused victims only assuming the identity of the perpetrators? The UN is taking evidence from a number of witnesses that just pass the etiquette of proper journalism, but are completely inadequate in the arena of international justice. And the validity of the witnesses should be a primary concern.

    Why the faulty gathering of information? The UN understands how it failed Rwanda during the three months of genocide. By calling a particular act of violence in the Congo in the years that followed a ‘second genocide’, is the UN trying to wipe their slate clean? Are they trying to balance guilt with accusations?