Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Dead and the Undertaker: The Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame Defies the West

By David O’Brian
AfroAmerica Network

London, Great Britain,
March 20, 2009

It is often said that the dead doesn’t argue with the undertaker andthat one of the most puzzling phenomenon is why criminals return to thescenes of their crimes. By challenging the West on BBC Hard Talk, theRwandan dictator General Paul Kagame showed that the dead can challengethe undertaker and criminal often returns to the scene of the crime.

December 7, 2006: Paul KAgame defies and threatens FRANCE AND ADMITS TOKILLING HABYARIMANA.

On December 7, 2006, the West was shocked to discover, on BBC Hard TalkShow hosted by Stephen Sackur, the true face of the once darling Africanleader, one President Bill Clinton and his then Secretary of State,Madeleine Albright used to label “the cream of the new breed of Africaleaders.” AfroAmerica Network had said then that the so much touted rarefruit was crawling with worms, and the world could only be appalled bythe degree of the stinking rot displayed by the Rwandan dictator on oneof the most reputable media in the World.

As if not satisfied, or rather like a criminal that goes back to thescene of the crime, Paul Kagame did it again on March 17, 2009. The onlysignificant change was the date. The protagonists were the same: StephenSackur, the smart and engaging journalist trying to make a sense of thepsychopathic mind of a dictator out of touch and ideas. The questionsstarted where they were left off three years ago.

Let us go back to December 7, 2006.

With an unprecedented mastery of the Great Lakes Region of Africageopolitical issues and challenges, Stephen Sackur relentlessly pursuedthe dictator of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. In a confrontational interview thatlasted more than 20 minutes, neither Kagame nor Sackur gave away land.Kagame tried to intimidate the journalist, and the journalist retaliatedwith a mastery of his stuff and a calm that disarmed the dictator andled him to commit public relations mistakes that viewers may have notforgotten.

Yet, the interview was to boost the public standing of Paul Kagame,after he and his henchmen were indicted by the anti-terrorist FrenchJudge Brugiere for the terrorist attack in 1994 on a civilian plane thatcarried the late Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burundian PresidentCyprien Ntaryamira and their staff. Everyone on the plane, including theFrench crew, perished. After an inquiry conducted over 12 years, thereputed Judge Brugiere concluded that Paul Kagame ordered the terroristattack and was assisted by 9 of his closest aides. International arrestwarrants were issued against the nine aides by the French Justice Systemin late November 2006, while Kagame, as a head of state enjoys immunity,waiting for a ruling to try him through the International CriminalCourt. Since then , the Spanish judicial system followed with their ownindictments of 40 of Paul Kagame’s top aides for war crimes, crimesagainst humanity and genocide committed in the Democratic Republic ofthe Congo and Rwanda.

General Paul Kagame was used to the British media rolling the red carpetand covering him with praises, perhaps out of empathy stemming from the1994 tragic events or for the lack of interest in the Great Lakes regionof Africa. The dictator used to talk while the media listened. It musthave been with anticipation that he entered the studios of BBC Hard Talk.

Alas, things did not go the way he anticipated. In December 2006,General Paul Kagame discovered with horror and stupefaction that theBritish media landscape had changed. Stephen Sackur showed him thatBritish journalists can do their homework, and that the empathy andguilt, as any strong and unfounded emotions, may always wane down.Sackur folded his sleeves instead of being lectured by an Africandictator, be he a friend and confident of some in the British politicalestablishment, especially the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair,now his personal advisor.

The highlight of the interview came when Stephen Sackur asked: “But doyou believe you had a right to assassinate him [President Habyarimana]?”andPresident Paul Kagame answered: “No, no, no! … for Habyarimana’s death.I don’t care ! I wasn’t responsible for his security. He wasn’tresponsible for mine either. And he wouldn’t have cared if I had died. Idon’t care that it happened to him. I was fighting that government, thegovernment that made me a refugee for those years, for which I had aright to fight about, and the judge wants to ask me why?”

Like many who watched the show, Stephen Sackur was visibly shocked bythese words from a head of state, What was the dictator thinking? Butthat was just an appetizer of what was to come on March 17, 2009.

March 17, 2009: Paul Kagame defies and threatens the West AND ADMITS TO DESTROYING EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO.

There are multiple hypotheses why a criminal returns to the scene of thecrime: to retrieve their forgotten or lost weapon, to admire their workor correct mistakes that may have been made, or to get caught and earn fame.Few may ever fathom why after the 2006 blunder and sheer stupidperformance General Paul Kagame returned on BCC Hard Talk to be grilledby Stephen Sackur.

Perhaps, as it is known, Paul Kagame does not want to listen to reason:he is the Head of State, he has brought Hutus under control and theyvoted for him almost 100%. No one can tell him what to do or say; not todo or not say: he is the leader- the supreme leader- and he does notcare about anything or anyone else.

And that what Stephen Sackur and all the BBC Hard Talk viewers may havegotten. Perhaps that was his mission, or perhaps he is just plain idiot.

The staff of BBC studios who saw him, for the second time, on March 17,2009, may have felt the same chill down the spine they felt when theyonce again looked into Kagame’s protruding and blood injected eyes,watched his menacing gestures towards the journalist and the world, andlistened to his legendary “I don’t care” tantrums. They may have beencomforted in their Western citizenship, happy for not being Rwandans,both Hutus and Tutsis, who daily face the dictator’s ire.

As he did in 2006, on March 17, 2009 Paul Kagame, confronted with basicinternational affairs, showed he is not atop of national and worldissues. Once again the case of the Congolese rebel General Nkundaimprisoned in Rwanda was raised and he didn’t care. His excuses remainedthe same: justifying his mistakes and crimes by the undying love of andfor his people, whose majority happens to be the oppressed Hutus andless connected Tutsis.

In 2006 he blamed the interference and arrogance of France, this timearound he blamed the naivety, ignorance, and arrogance of the West.

Instead of facing his problems he found scapegoats, In 2006 he blamedFrance for supplying weapons to Hutus, this time he went to length ofindicting MONUC for supplying the weapons to Hutu rebels.

The journalist conceded that Paul Kagame may have concealed therecruitment of children in Rwanda and the money provided by his personaladvisor and confident Rujugiro, but he asked a simple question: Howabout the tanks firing into Congo across the border from Rwanda insupport of Lauren Nkunda’s rebel forces.

But Kagame doesn’t care.

Once again the journalist appealed to him by pointing out that he is thepresident of Rwanda and should care about the case of his the confident,Rujugiro, providing hundreds of dollars to Nkunda?

On holding Nkunda, Kagame blatantly said he is holding him outside thelegal process, for political reasons, like millions of Rwandan who havebeen rotting in jails and dungeons for the last 15 years without trialor legitimate accusations. As a good African dictator he lent hissupport to none other than Bashir, the indicted President of Sudan.

In 2006, Stephen Sackur concluded:”You are a president of a nation. Doyou believe it is responsible for you to seat here on this program andsuggest that the Prime Minister of France was actively involved,colluded in the slaughter of a million people.”

Despite the wise warning, Kagame, like a dog biting his tail, respondedin 2006: “I don’t need any advice”.

In 2009, Kagame pounded: “What I do not want is the arrogance of the West.”

Stephen Sackur was just shocked. What went in Stephen Sackur’s mind inhis last last minutes of interview when he remained silent, like someone struck on the head by a mysterious force? He may forever wonder how,for the second time, a head of state may be so careless, tactless,arrogant, ignorant, and aggressive to the point of defying the entireWest, after putting the Great Lakes region of Africa on the knees.

But our question is: What West the dictator of Rwanda was talking about?
The West that keeps him on life support or the West that threatens to cut the lifeline. Either way, the dead may be challenging the undertaker.


Credits: Mr Agaculama_mu_ikibunda for the cartoon.

Democracy Human Rights Group

Related Materials:
Stephen HARDtalk: Sackur talks to Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame. (12-7-2006)

HARDtalk Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda (3-17-2009)
Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, talks to Stephen Sackur.


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