Mugumo Munene /Daily Nation - theeastafrican.co.ke
Rwandan President Paul Kagame left the Kenya on Tuesday after delivering the keynote address to the Governors’ Summit. He spoke to Mugumo Munene in a side-line interview on a wide range of issues, including the assassination of Rwandan defectors living in exile.
In less than three months, Rwanda will be marking 20 years after the genocide. How is the reconciliation process going?
It’s going very well. Simply put, there is no way our country would have made such significant progress without people’s involvement.
Secondly, they would not have worked together without overcoming the challenges that have been there. At the beginning, we had almost the entire population of the country displaced.
The psychology of it was that they did not know what to hold onto. We had to get involved in trying to pick the pieces. It is this soul searching, people finding ways they can work together that has brought us this far.
What progress has your government made in tracing Felicine Kabuga who is accused of funding the genocide?
We are not able as a government to be the ones to trace him.
It requires the collaboration of the entire international system and still that has not given us good results. You have heard of the US government putting in money and the ICTR involved in cases of tracking.
We have been talking to different governments in the continent and we are not any closer to putting him where he belongs. It’s still a mystery how he manages to disappear into thin air.
A number of times it has come up that he is in Kenya.
Yes, a number of times we have talked to administrations. It’s a very long time since this came up but we never got to know whether he was here or somebody was covering up for him….we never got to know the truth.
Is he in Kenya?
I would really be guessing. I’m not confortable making any assertions without facts.
As part of reconciliation, a new initiative called mass apology was started by a youth group and you supported it. Tell us about that.
It is something that came under what we call Ndi Umunyarwanda.
In which case Rwandans look at their history and merge with the commitment to ourselves and our future that whoever did anything wrong needs a chance to contribute to a better future then so be it. It has done very well.
But critics say it is wrong to get the Hutu to apologise to the Tutsi as it amounts to victimising one group.
You see it is not anything that is being forced. It is an idea that came up from the people themselves. It’s something voluntary. Nobody has been held responsible for being silent.
Isn’t it a bit odd that people who were not responsible in any way like your Prime Minister come to apologise.
I think critics should take more time to analyse what they are talking about.
People need to take time to listen to what he’s saying. He was saying that “this should not have happened in my name”.
There are people who used his name and he gave many examples of what he knows when he was in school and in the work place. First of all he is doing it voluntarily. He’s saying that people should not do things in the name of a group.
Don’t you think it throws a blanket of guilt over one group?
In an open society there are two things that stand out, one is the right of the minority. But the majority also have a right. And it reflects the desire of the society. Critics could also have said that silence doesn’t help. You have to choose how to proceed. As far I have seen nobody has been hurt about it.
Tell us about Rwanda’s situation particularly in 2017. Will you retire as per the constitution?
First, I don’t think it is about one individual. I know I have become a subject of discussion but someone needs to deflect it to the actual situation. Elections mean the feelings and the choices of people.
Sometimes you may run the danger of questioning the choices of people because they make a choice and you say you should not have made that choice. This is why I have become uncomfortable answering this question because in any case I’m not satisfying anybody.
Will you leave when the time comes?
You are saying that as if the constitution falls from heaven. It’s made by people. The fact that the constitution is in place means that this is what the people put in place.
The question is how has this changed? It changed because the same people changed it and made it so. Whether I’m going or not should not preoccupy people. Time passes and we will come to know what will happen.
To those who insist on this question, you say wait and see?
Yes, let’s wait and see. What will happen will happen.
The other day, you said treason has consequences. Some people drew conclusions about what happened in South Africa to Patrick Karegeya (former Rwandan director of external intelligence who defected and was found murdered in a hotel recently)
Am I not supposed to say what I want to say? I said many things in a religious context. Somebody can take anything out of context.
By betraying a cause and a people, why should it not have consequences?
When you betray the government, you betray the people of Rwanda. The fact that these people live in exile has consequences. They are not at peace.
Many of them tend to die.
People die but these same people who die, die from different causes. These Karegeyas and other belong to an organisation that has been killing people in Rwanda. There’s evidence. A mountain of evidence.
So it is not agents of the Rwanda government that track these people down and kill them?
Not that I know of. But I have evidence that they have been involved in activities that have killed Rwandans. That’s what I have proof for.
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