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Rwandan President Warns of Reprisals Against France

  • Lisa Schlein

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame warns of reprisals if France goes ahead with its indictment of his chief of protocol for alleged involvement in the assassination of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994. Mr. Kagame, who is attending a meeting at the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, says France cannot expect its actions to go unchallenged. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame likens France's actions to a form of wild-west justice. He says a system of international justice that does not have regulations is likely to cause chaos.

Mr. Kagame is angry and scornful of France's warrant for the arrest of his chief of protocol, Rose Kabuye. She was arrested Sunday in Frankfurt in connection with the 1994 assassination of Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana.

His death in an airplane crash triggered the Hutu-led genocide that killed about 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu.

President Kagame says France's actions in regard to his minister will determine whether his country decides to indict and issue arrest warrants against French nationals suspected of involvement in the genocide.

"If this case continues and the world continues to believe that whoever wants ... [to indict someone in another country can just do it, then] ... a village judge in France can sit and indict a minister in Rwanda or in Senegal or in Djibouti or in Gabon and indict the president there. Therefore, I assume the reverse is true. We shall have village judges in Rwanda or in any other country in Africa being able to indict the same people in Europe, in France or in other countries," he said.

Senior Rwandan officials who want to remain anonymous say their government is preparing arrest warrants against 23 French military and political officials. They include such luminaries as France's late president Francois Mitterrand and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

President Kagame says a well-regulated system of international justice must be created if the world wishes to avoid this type of tit-for-tat form of justice. He warns France's actions will be challenged if it persists in going through with its prosecution of his minister, Rose Kabuye.

"If you indict our people, we indict your people," he said. "You want international justice system to work properly than it should work properly. But, you cannot at this time and age have people trying to stampede and trample on other peoples' rights. It is bound to be challenged, legally or otherwise."

Mr. Kagame received support for his position from the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore. Both men are attending a high-level meeting on climate change, information and communication technology, and cybersecurity.

President Compaore says international justice should not be used by one continent for revenge on another continent. He says international justice must be fair and impartial.

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