Home | News    Tuesday 22 February 2005

Rwandan president to visit Darfur

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By EDWARD RWEMA, Associated Press Writer

KIGALI, Rwanda, Feb 21, 2005 (AP) — Sudan was to receive a visit from the president of Rwanda, where a genocide a decade ago has been pointed to as a cautionary tale for the world when it comes to responding to violence in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

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Paul Kagame

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame may visit Darfur, where Rwandan troops are participating in an African Union force, Rwandan Minister of State for Cooperation Protais Mitali said Monday.

Mitali said that during a three-day state visit starting Tuesday, Kagame was to discuss Darfur, regional conflicts and bilateral relations with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir.

During commemorations last year of the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, many observers said that the international community moved too slowly to prevent thousands of deaths in this central African country, and called for quicker and more decisive action on Darfur.

Kagame also has drawn parallels, saying in August as 140 Rwandan troops prepared to join the peacekeeping force in Darfur: "Our forces will not stand by and watch innocent civilians being hacked to death like the case was here in 1994."

United Nations observers in Rwanda did not intervene during the genocide because they lacked such a mandate.

The Rwandan troops are part of an African Union force whose mandate is to protect unarmed military observers monitoring an oft-violated Darfur cease-fire.

The Sudanese government is accused of responding to a rebellion among ethnic African tribes in Darfur by backing a scorched-earth campaign by ethnic Arab militia known as Janjaweed. The United Nations has accused the government and the Janjaweed of widespread human rights abuses, and recommended war crimes trials.

The United States accused the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed of genocide.

In Rwanda, more than 500,000 minority Tutsis and political moderates from the Hutu majority were killed in a campaign involving government troops, Hutu militia and villages organized by an extremist Hutu government.

The genocide ended when then-rebels led by Kagame captured the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and ousted the extremist government on July 4, 1994.

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