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
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.