19 June 2008

Zimbabwe: Africa Has Failed Zimbabwe - Kagame

Village Urugwiro — President Paul Kagame Wednesday said that the African continent had failed the people of Zimbabwe  by its failure  to help resolve the political crisis in that country.

The President made the remarks during his regular meeting with members of the local and international media at Village Urugwiro, Kigali.

"There is a failure by African countries to support the process in Zimbabwe. The first impression is that there are some serious problems," said the president.

He continued, pointing out that even though neighbouring countries had a moral obligation to help, it was up to the people of Zimbabwe to take the first step.

"The problem cannot be solved by outsiders, but Zimbabweans themselves should be seen to be trying to solve their own problems," pointed out Kagame, though he suggested that if they failed, then SADC (Southern African Development Community) should "step in."

The country embarks on a second round of presidential elections next week, the run up to which has been marred by political violence and threats from Mugabe and his supporters vowing that they would not let the opposition candidate, Mr Tsvangirai, take power even if he won.

Morgan Tsvangirai narrowly won the first round of the elections but failed to get the more than 50% needed to avoid a runoff.

President Kagame was sceptical as to whether the elections would be free and fair in view of the current war drums sounding from Mugabe's camp.

"It does not need a genius to understand that free and fair elections can be hard to contemplate in the current situation," Kagame pointed out.

The president also touched on the issue of indictments by Spanish and French judges, saying that they were an insult to the people of Rwanda.

"They use the law when it suits their purposes," said  Mr. Kagame, adding that Rwanda's decision to indict foreigners suspected of involvement in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide for war crimes was more valid and had tangible evidence.

"There are compelling reasons why they should indict more people living in their countries," he continued, saying that it was simply politics, where those countries think 'might is right'.

The government recently decided to apply the Universal Jurisdictions clause embedded in its laws to indict those it has tangible evidence against.

"We should not be treated like this. We shouldn't take it lying down. We have to be prepared to respond," he said, adding that he would raise the issue of foreign indictments against third world countries in the African Union.

Church should apologise

President Kagame also condemned recent remarks by the head of the Catholic Church in Rwanda, Archbishop Thadée Ntihinyurwa, who recently told some foreign radio networks that the Rwandan judiciary should not handle the trial of the four army officers charged with the deaths of Kabgayi Catholic clergy in 1994.

Ntihinyurwa alleged that the trial would not be transparent and should be handled by foreign courts or the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The President reminded that the Church failed the people of Rwanda in 1994 and that he was surprised that opposition was coming from someone who, in the past, had been subject to investigations into his "personal" role in the Genocide.

"The other day the Pope apologised to Americans for crimes by members of the clergy. I am waiting for the day when they will do the same for the people of Rwanda," remarked the president.

Several priests and nuns have been indicted and found guilty of Genocide by the ICTR, Belgian, and Rwanda courts.

The most recent being Father Athanase Seromba, the former parish priest of Nyange who ordered his church to be razed to the ground using a bulldozer.

The church came tumbling down on over 2,000 Tutsi refugees who had taken refuge inside.  Seromba was  handed a life sentence by the ICTR .

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