20 January 2009

Rwanda-Germany to Mend Diplomatic Fence

Kigali — Rwanda and Germany have decided to bury the hatchet and restore full diplomatic relations.

A "mutual" press release by the Foreign Affairs ministry (Minaffet) yesterday announced that both countries would reappoint heads of their respective diplomatic missions ending a two month row.

"Germany and Rwanda share a long history of friendly relations. In the mutual interest of both countries and their peoples, they want to look forward and have agreed to work together to iron out matters disagreed upon," reads the statement.

The two countries' diplomatic relations caved in last November following the arrest in Germany of the Director of State Protocol, Rose Kabuye while on official duty.

Rwanda vigorously protested and recalled its Ambassador to Germany, Eugene Gasana and gave the German Ambassador, Christian Clages, 48 hours to leave the country.

Rose Kabuye was arrested on November 10 at the Frankfurt International Airport as she arrived in the European country to prepare a presidential visit, which automatically accorded her functional diplomatic status.

In a telephone interview with The New Times, Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali confirmed the new rapprochement but added that one outstanding issue to be discussed with the Germans is of leaders of the rebel movement, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), who continue to roam freely in Germany.

The FDLR are remnants of former genocide masterminds - ex-FAR/Interahamwe militia - who spearheaded the 1994 Genocde against Tutsis that claimed the lives of over one million people.

"Yes, definitely we will talk about that too," the minister said, revealing that the matter was also being examined "in the general AU-EU framework."

Museminali reiterated the government concerns that FDLR leader Ignance Murwanashayka still moves freely in and out of Germany despite a UN Security Council's resolution 1804 that imposed travel and financial sanctions on FDLR leaders.

She, however, sounded optimistic the Germans might apprehend the FDLR leader and put the matter to rest.

"We hope they will. It is not only a request by Rwanda but also an international obligation," she said.

Rose Kabuye's arrest was based on controversial indictments issued by an equally controversial judge French judge, Jean Louis Bruguiere, on allegations that Kabuye and several other government officials were involved in downing of former President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane in 1994.

The government has always maintained that Kabuye's arrest was not only illegal, but was also based on fictitious indictments.

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