Rwanda: Whose Rules Apply?


August 2, 2008: For the last two weeks Rwanda has been telling the UN it will withdraw its peacekeeping contingent from Darfur if the UN insists that Rwanda replace Rwandan General Emmanuel Karake Karenzi. Rwanda, however is emphasizing that it is not issuing an "ultimatum." Still, this is a touchy subject. Karenzi is currently the deputy commander of the UNAMID force in Darfur. This is a prestigious position and Rwanda is proud of Karenzi's senior status. Karenzi, however, has also been indicted in Spain for war crimes (specifically "reprisal killings in Rwanda") he allegedly committed during the 1990s. A UN group had been investigating Karenzi's actions in a major battle in 2000 in the Congolese town of Kisangani, but that incident was not involved in the Spanish indictment. The Spanish indictment mentions two towns (Mukingo and Nyakinama) in Rwanda where Karenzi was allegedly involved in the murder of ethnic Rwandan Hutus. Rwanda has 2600 soldiers and police in Darfur with UNAMID. A Rwandan withdrawal would put the entire UNAMID peacekeeping effort in jeopardy. On July 31, Rwanda's president Paul Kagame took on more than the Spanish indictment. Kagame accused the UN's International Criminal Court (ICC) of practicing "imperialism." Kagame contends the ICC targets African countries, specifically "poor countries."

July 22, 2008: A young woman was killed in a hand grenade attack in Bujumbura. The attacker was allegedly a Burundian soldier. Interestingly enough, the soldier was arrested and charged with murder -a possible sign of change in Burundi.

July 20, 2008: The UN Security Council extended the mandate for judges serving with the UN war crimes tribunal tasked with investigating the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania. It was created in November 1994.

July 18, 2008: Sweden took over as chair of the Burundi Peacebuilding Commission. The commissions is a "country specific" operation designed to monitor and forward Burundi's peace and reconciliation process.

July 10, 2008: The UN Security Council voted to end the arms embargo on Rwanda. The embargo had been in effect since the 1994 genocide.

July 9, 2008: The Burundian government accused the FNL-PALIPEHUTU of "halting demobilization" and recruiting new rebel fighters. The FNL faction denied the accusation.




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