Kigali, 2 February 2012
President Kagame today held a press conference at Urugwiro Village, the first in 2011, where he addressed several issues raised by journalists representing local, regional and international media houses.
Responding to a question arising from speculations that the four senior RDF officers who were placed under house arrest were planning a Coup D’état, President Kagame said the truth was that the se nior military officers were arrested on grounds of indiscipline;
“Rwanda’s policy on accountability is well known and when it comes to the military, it even gets different. The said senior Army officers were involved in activities that are not in tandem with military norms and measures had to be taken as it should be. As for rumours and speculations doing the rounds, nobody can stop that. The truth is there and it’s upon people to choose between rumors and the truth.”
Concerning the AU headquarters that was constructed and recently handed over by the People’s Republic of China as a gift to the African body, raising questions from several quarters as to whether African nation s could not have afforded to construct it themselves, President Kagame said that it is inevitable for Africans to accept support for now as they build capacities to be able to solve their own problems. However, he said that it would not be acceptable for Africans to stay in this situation perpetually. He said that Africans should endeavor to do the right thing in their individual nations in order to avoid foreign interference in their affairs.
On whether the Rwanda government and Rwandan people should not sue for damages caused by the ‘Bruguière report,’ President Kagame said that some things are better left to pass because in the process, it would prove more expensive than if people decided to make no response at all:
“The damage caused to Rwandans is so huge that no reparation granted would be enough. In situations like these, you find that it is worthwhile to leave it behind us and look ahead. The Bruguière and Spanish indictments were created to merely inconvenience Rwandans because they are hinged on no genuine legal premise and are not meant to serve any justice cause. For universal jurisdictions to be credible, it has to go both ways and not the situation where we only have some powerful nations having jurisdictions over less powerful ones.”
President Kagame said that as much as the Trevidic Report was welcome news to Rwandans, it only came to put forward what People had all along known and believed about the shooting of Habyarimana’s plane, despite the fact that some people had chosen to manipulate the truth for their own gains. President Kagame said Rwandans would continue to challenge the Spanish indictments so that the truth can be found sooner than later.
Responding to a question of what he thought about the deportation of Leon Mugesera from Canada to come and stand trial in Rwanda for his role in genocide, President Kagame said this was long overdue:
“It’s a good thing it happened finally; its breakthrough in our justice and an indication of where we stand today. Trials of Rwandan suspects should take place in Rwanda because it’s about human rights of Rwandans. Rwandans have a right to have genocide suspects tried here; various people had unfairly hijacked the process and were fighting extraditions and transfers. I have no doubt that our jus tice system will handle the trials of these suspects fairly and this should open up to more suspects coming for trial here where they committed crimes and not elsewhere.
President Kagame pointed out that the fact that FDLR was weakening was a direct result of concerted efforts by Rwanda and stakeholders in the region, and that Rwanda would continue with these efforts until the terrorist organization is completely incapacitated.
President Kagame said that in spite of immense pressure on land and resources due to high population growth, Rwanda had put in place measures that to mitigate negative effects on the environment.
“We have mounted a combination of measures that include education and sensitization on population control and environmental conservation and we are already seeing some impressive results. We have introduced energy saving stoves, better farming methods and others, and we are registering tremendous progress all round.”
On what he thought about the two journalists who are now appealing their 17 year sentence, President Kagame said:
“I am not a judge and I have no influence on court decisions. I would give my opinion on what I think about the sentences, but it’s only the courts to give the verdict on the matter.”
Concerning the sluggish process of East African integration, President Kagame warned that people should exercise caution and patience because things were not as easy as they thought, and cannot happen as fast as they desired:
“There are lots of challenges but the good thing is that we have a framework that guides us to stay the course. We have commendable progress like the customs union, EALA, etc, and we will build on this and move on.”
Responding to a question on whether some leaders pledge to do things that may seem unrealistic during signing of performance contracts and end up not delivering, President Kagame said he does not mind people being overly ambitious because, if well managed, what seems unrealistic can be achieved.