Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PAUL KAGAME'S ENDLESS DIPLOMATIC GAMBLES

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, welcomes Rwandan's President Paul Kagame, right, at the Elysee Palace. Kagame has warned outside powers against trying to "manage Africa" during a visit to France aimed at soothing tensions over the 1994 genocide
















By Theogene Rudasingwa
February 22, 2012


The saga between Kagame and France continues. It is a familiar story that sometimes sounds like a children's fairy tale. The latest is France recalling its Ambassador to Kigali, whom many have referred to as a French RPF cadre. Reason? Kagame does not want the new French nominee to the diplomatic post in Kigali because "she is too close to the French Foreign Minister", Alain Juppe, whom Kagame considers "hostile to Rwanda's interests"!. Judging from the past rhythm of the Kagame-Sarkozy dance, Kagame throws a tantrum and then Paris finally backs down and does Kagame's bidding. Kagame expelled the French Ambassador a couple of years ago, and the next time Sarkozy was in Kigali. Kagame daily insults the French and then they invite him to France. He denounces the French as the accomplices to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda (Read Mutsinzi and Mucyo reports) and the Trevidic report comes out at best lukewarm and at worst plays into the Kagame hands with respect to the shooting down of the Habyarimana plane.


Kagame's whole diplomatic venture with France is a gamble to prevent the truth coming out with regard to the terrorist crime he committed by ordering the shooting down of the Habyarimana plane. He knows that his legitimacy and future hang on this decisive landmark event. He will spend any political and economic resources to manipulate or blackmail the French and the international public opinion to frustrate and subvert the course of justice. When any pretense of civility fails, he will resort to primitive violence.


Kagame has absolute power in Rwanda, and he often boasts that he can always do whatever he wants. He calls his personal interests "Rwanda's interests". He thinks and acts as if Rwanda's national interests are synonymous with his personal interests. He is Rwanda. Rwanda is him. He has forgotten or ignored that France is another sovereign country? If other countries accept Kagame's diplomats, some of whom are really his house boys and girls , or sometimes agents on criminal errands to kill refugees, who is he to question France's legitimate choice of their diplomats?


The one-million dollar question is why France ( or Sarkozy?) would pursue a counter-productive or futile policy of appeasement on Kagame? Kagame will never change his posture on France unless Paris proclaims him innocent of the crime of shooting down of the plane. And even when they do that, he will ask them to kneel before him and ask for forgiveness for having been accomplices in the 1994 genocide. Like the English saying, they are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. If France is operating out of the guilt of the past like the rest of the international community, they better outgrow it and deal with Kagame firmly, in the interest of Rwanda and all of its citizens. If they have other legitimate interests in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, they are placing their eggs in one broken basket. Kagame is on the way out. He has outlived his usefulness, and has become a break to progress in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. France needs to exorcise its demons on Rwanda, and be bold enough to deal with the emerging Rwandan pro-democracy voices. That is where the future lies. 


Accepting Kagame's belligerent diplomatic gambles is not only not a sustainable basis for bilateral Franco-Rwanda relations, it is an extremely dangerous policy. It has far reaching and negative consequences for Rwanda, the Great Lakes region, Africa and international peace and security.


As the game of brinkmanship unfolds let us wait and see who blinks first: Sarkozy or Kagame?


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