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Rwanda Lawmakers Consider Commission of Inquiry into Protocol Chief’s Arrest

Rwanda's parliament is expected to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry to look into the arrest of the chief of protocol over the weekend in Germany. The lawmakers said Thursday that the arrest warrant issued by a French judge that led to the incarceration of Rose Kabuye in Germany is evidence of France's contempt to Africans. Rwanda's parliament convened a special session Thursday and summoned the ministers of justice and foreign affairs to discuss the fate of President Paul Kagame's chief of protocol. The arrest sparked a diplomatic row between Kigali and Berlin, although Rwanda maintains it is not severing ties with Germany. Jean Bosco Gasasira, editor of the Umuvugizi independent newspaper in Rwanda, tells reporter Peter Clottey that the parliamentarians claim the arrest violates international protocol.

"Today the Rwanda parliament summoned the minister of foreign affairs and minister of justice to give more explanation on the arrest of Rose Kabuye. And they (the ministers) gave the explanation that the act was an abuse of universal jurisdiction, saying that they (Germany) acted contrary to the Vienna agreement and violating protocol when Rose Kabuye was on official duty, as well as holding a diplomatic passport," Gasasira noted.

He said the lawmakers were not happy about the flouting of Rwanda's sovereignty.

"They also showed that the French government giving out the international warrants did not act with mutual respect for Rwanda by basing the warrants only from hearing from one side, and not bothering to ask the accused. On a related event, the parliamentarians asked the rationale behind the recalling of Rwanda's envoy in Germany and gave the German ambassador 48 hours to leave the country. And the ministers explained to the parliamentarians that the action was necessary to convey Kigali's displeasure about the arrest of the chief of protocol," he said.

Gasasira said the lawmakers are resolved to forming a commission of inquiry to investigate the overseas diplomatic row.

"The lawmakers said they were going to form a commission of parliamentarians, which is going to be doing some advocacy work and diplomacy on the matter. Meaning that they would be consulting with other parliamentarians of the European Union, as well as different African countries, to explain the row to them and how the indictments are more politically motivated than being that of justice," Gasasira pointed out.

He said some members of the East African community are condemning the arrest of Kigali's chief of protocol.

"President Kagame is now chairman of the East African Community (EAC). He was elected this year to be the head of the East African Community and the member states of the East African Community like Uganda and others through their ambassadors have made a declaration that they are not happy with the diplomatic incident. But surprisingly so far, Burundi and Kenya are yet to show support to Rwanda. So according to the foreign minister, they would be asked to take a stand," he said.

Meanwhile, some members of the East African Community are expressing their displeasure with the arrest of Rose Kabuye over allegations of complicity in the 1994 genocide, in which over 800-thousand Hutus and moderate Tutsis were killed.

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. President Kagame's government describes the arrest of Rose Kabuye as an infringement on Rwanda's sovereignty.