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Thousands of Rwandans Protest Arrest of Senior Official

About 5,000 protesters converged on the German Embassy in Kigali to protest the arrest of a member of President Paul Kagame's staff. Thomas Rippe reports for VOA from Kigali.

Rwandans, rich and poor, young and old, converged on the German embassy in Kigali to protest the arrest in Germany of Rose Kabuye, chief of protocol to Rwanda President Paul Kagame. She was arrested on a 2006 French indictment that alleges she participated in the 1994 assassination of Rwanda President Juvénal Habyarimana, who died in a plane crash.
His assassination sparked the genocide that killed 800,000Tutsis and moderate Hutus. France investigated the assassination because the two pilots, who were also killed, were French.
Rwandan Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali says she was shocked by the arrest.

"But even more deeply we were shocked that a government like Germany that is able to get to the bottom of the truth would arrest somebody on such warrants of arrest that were politically motivated, that have no legal basis, that have no proper information collected, that have a flawed process they have gone through, and to find that a country like Germany would arrest a person like Rose with such status," said Rosemary Museminali.

The Kigali protesters were especially outraged the arrest took place in Germany. Ms. Umunyana (no first name given) is a housewife and entrepreneur in Kigali.

"They really have forgotten very fast after what they did 70 years ago in the holocaust," said Ms. Umunyana. "There is no way they can arrest Rose. She is not guilty. They should know better."

Rwandans at the Kigali protest question the validity of the arrest and international justice.

John Gatabazi says he is angry at Germany's idea of justice.

"Imagine if you tried a Jew for genocide," said John Gatabazi. "This lady is a Rwandan hero who has fought genocide. And right now she is being tried for genocide. That is a double standard."

Minister Museminali says more dialogue between Europe and Africa is necessary if the international justice system is to work.

"We also reminded the German government that these same indictments that the warrants of arrest were based on are the same indictments that the African Union, together as a continent, condemned, and has started a process of discussing with the European Union to ensure that international jurisdiction is not abused so that we do not have legal anarchy," she said.

Rwanda and France have been trading accusations over the 1994 genocide for years. Earlier this year Rwanda issued a report accusing top French officials, including former-president Francois Mitterand, of participating in the genocide. Legal and political relations between the countries remain strained.