News 2008


Rwandan President suggests Army takeover for Kenya

Sunday, 3rd February 2008


By: Manasseh Zindo.

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, whose country suffered a genocide in 1994, said an intervention by the military may be the only way to halt Kenya’s escalating ethnic bloodshed.

“This is a case of emergency where certain things have to be done very quickly to stop the killings that are going on. There’s no time to go into niceties and debates when the killings are taking place,” President Paul Kagame told Reuters in an interview.

Kenya has been hit by unrest since President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election in December that has killed about 850 people, displacing about 300,000 others with about 6,000 Kenyan refugees in Uganda alone.

The stalemate in Kenya has now claimed the lives of two lawmakers in political related killings, with several journalists facing death threats from people claming to be the proscribed Mungik sect, a Kikuyu underground gang, blamed for killings, crimes and forceful female gentle mutilation.

Residents in the troubled Kenyan town of Nakuru, now says [Mungik] members are armed with guns and wear police uniforms. Though Kenyans are horrified by the brutality taking place in their usually peaceful nation, the situation is far from the ethnic slaughter that killed about 800,000 people in Rwanda in a three-month killing spree that shocked the world in 1994.

Gen Kagame said the Kenyan army might have to take over before things get worse. “I know that it is not fashionable and right for the armies to get involved in such a political situation, but in situations where institutions have lost control, I wouldn’t mind such a solution,” he said.

His suggestions were backed by Uganda’s leader of official opposition in Parliament Prof Ogengo Latigo, but Ugandan opposition leader and President of FDC (Forum for Democratic Change), Dr Kizza Besigye, blamed Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and chairman of Kenya’s Electoral Commission for the impasse.

“I tend to believe that the Kenyan army is professional and had been stable,” President Kagame added in the interview with Reuters. Kagame, a former rebel leader who marched on the Rwandan capital, Kigali, as the genocide was taking place, said he backed mediation efforts headed by Kofi Annan (former UN Chief), and that any military takeover should only be temporary.

“I tend to suggest that maybe whatever in terms of leadership that is there should be swept aside and space be created for people to go back on the drawing board and settle their grievances,” Kagame said. He spoke during a visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Rwanda to commemorate the 14th anniversary of genocide in that country.

Speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Dr Jendayi Fraser has claimed that there is ethnic cleansing in Kenya. “There has been an organized effort to push out people from Rift Valley. It is clearly ethnic cleansing. I don’t consider it genocide,” she told reporters.

“There’s a serious, tragic situation taking place in Kenya, especially when you look at the number of people that are being killed, how they are being killed. Despite all mediation efforts you see situation not getting better but worse.” Kagame added.

The Rwandan President said he knew his suggestion of military intervention was a radical one. “I might sound controversial but in the wake of such senseless killings with no immediate solution, if anybody suggested that (military) option to me, I would say I agree with it,” he said.

“It is not too late for Kenyans to look back and see how our country went down the drain in the past and I don’t think we would wish a similar thing for any country.”

The UN special adviser on preventing genocide and mass atrocities earlier this week warned the Kenyan leaders responsible for the post-election standoff that they could be held to account for violations of international law.

Francis Deng told Reuters he was sending a staff member to look into the situation. Deng explained that what was happening in Kenya so far did not amount to genocide. “We’re not talking the g-word at this point, but the kind of atrocities we’re seeing could easily escalate to dangerous level,” he said.