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Rwanda Expels German Envoy Over Arrest of Kigali’s Protocol Chief


Rwandans have welcomed as a step in the right direction President Paul Kagame government's decision to expel Germany's ambassador to Rwanda and recall Kigali's envoy in Germany. But Kigali adds that it is not severing diplomatic ties with Germany, insisting that full diplomatic ties would be restored once the controversy surrounding the arrest of the chief of protocol over her alleged complicity in the 1994 genocide is resolved. The move comes after President Kagame visited Rose Kabuye Tuesday in Germany to reassure her of Kigali's unflinching support ahead of her possible trial in France.

Rose Kabuye, who is the director of state protocol in Rwanda, was arrested at Frankfurt airport on Sunday by German police, who acted on a 2006 international warrant issued by France for her and eight other Kagame associates. Meanwhile, President Kagame's government describes the arrest of Rose Kabuye as an infringement of Rwanda's sovereignty.

Jean Bosco Gasasira is the editor of the Umuvugizi independent newspaper in Rwanda. From the capital, Kigali he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the German ambassador must depart quickly from Kigali.

"The Rwandan government has ordered the German ambassador to leave the country. They have given him 48 hours to leave Rwandan territory and they have also recalled Rwanda's ambassador in Germany to come back until the arrest of colonel Rose Kabuye is solved," Gasasira pointed out.

He said Rwandans are still protesting the arrest of the director of protocol in Germany over the weekend.

"People of all walks of life, including religious leaders as well as the youth, went in front of the embassy of the European Union protesting and having posters of colonel Rose Kabuye and saying she should be free, and ordering the German government to rather arrest those who committed genocide in Rwanda who are in Germany. But this incident happened shortly after President Kagame arrived in Germany, when he visited Colonel Rose Kabuye, and had left Germany, heading to Geneva because he has a meeting there," he said.

Gasasira said the future direction of Germany's funding of Rwandan rebuilding efforts remains unclear because of the ongoing diplomatic row. Germany took a leading role in helping Rwanda rebuild after the 1994 genocide in which more than 800 thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus where killed.

"The information we have here on the ground is that Germany has been among the first five countries to fund directly Rwanda's budget. And because of the cordial relationship that existed between the two countries, Germany warned if Rose Kabuye traveled to Germany without being in an official presidential delegation she could be arrested. They had forewarned them (Rwanda government) two weeks ago about the arrest. So, it is surprising that this is happening now," Gasasira noted.

He said Germany had wanted to arrest the director of protocol long before it even did.

"In a related incident, Rwanda is saying that they (Germany) had wanted to capture Colonel Rose Kabuye all along in May this year. But the government thought that things would not reach this stage," he said.

Gasasira said this is the second time President Kagame's government has engaged a European country in a diplomatic row.

"People are really asking themselves about the incident because earlier in 2006, the French ambassador was expelled from Rwanda in a related issue due to the indictment from the judge in France. And in not less than two years, a second European country, which is Germany, has also been expelled in a related issue. So people are now shocked and are asking themselves, what is going on? They don't know what is going on and Rwandan officials are trying to explain to the entire population what the reasons are and have been trying to hold press conferences in order to convince people as to why and what made the government to make such a decision," Gasasira said.

He said Rwandans have been assured the move is only temporary until the controversy is resolved between the two countries.

"The Rwanda government is saying that this is a temporary issue that Colonel Rose Kabuye is released, they would revive the diplomatic relationship with Germany. So the issue is in the hands of the two countries, both Rwanda and Germany, to sort out the diplomatic incident," he pointed out.

Rose Kabuye, who was in Germany to prepare for a tour of European countries by President Kagame, is accused of involvement in the 1994 shooting down of a plane that killed former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. The incident is believed to have sparked the entire campaign of genocidal killings in April 1994.

President Kagame reportedly said the arrest of Kabuye would adversely affect the relationship between Kigali and France as well as Germany.