Kigali, 31 March 2011

President Kagame has said that his position on the UN Security Council resolution to intervene in Libya is informed by what he has lived and not what he has read in books or imagined. However, he insisted that his stand does not imply he thinks the international community does not have its failings. President Kagame was answering a question during today’s press conference on whether his support for international intervention in Libya does not contradict his opposition to double standard tendencies by the international community:

“Things in Libya started off as a Libyan matter, borne out of the situation in the country. However, when the situation goes beyond being an internal matter, it calls for external intervention. Unless the pictures we see on television from Libya are not what we perceive them to be, the situation called for urgent international intervention which is why African Security Council members voted in favor of international intervention. A government does not have a right to kill its own people”.

President Kagame said that he did not agree with calls that the matter should be left to Libyans themselves and the African Union because the African Union already has enough problems to deal with:

“You cannot leave those women and children in Benghazi to fight it out against Gaddafi’s air force and artillery. If you want to talk about the African Union, it is not short of problems to handle and cannot afford to deal with more: we already have Ivory Coast, Somalia, Sothern Sudan, and Darfur…why don’t we resolve these? Whether people are using this genuine situation to serve their interests, that’s beside the point. Protecting people is key and urgent”.

Concerning Libyan investments in Rwanda, President Kagame pointed out that one of the entities had started having regulatory problems even before the crisis in Libya: “But now that there is a UN resolution to impose sanctions on Libyan investments and assets abroad, we will be bound to abide by the resolution”.

Answering a question that originally came up through his Facebook page on why oil prices continue to rise thereby affecting other commodity prices in Rwanda when there are oil producing countries within the region where Rwanda could import fuel from, President Kagame said he appreciated the idea and observed that this is one of the many issues where African countries need to come together and designing infrastructure to make this happen.

“It’s an idea that I want to take on board and think of the best way to approach and look at ways, possibilities and challenges and if it can be achieved”.

In regard to the re-appointment of Alain Juppe as France’s Foreign Minister, President Kagame said that this could have certain implications on the otherwise improving relations between Rwanda and France, mainly because of his involvement and position on matters relating to the 1994 genocide and its history.

“His name and attitude do not augur well for Rwandans. He has not even attempted to rectify this situation and therefore our views about him and his stance has not changed. Rwandans have been insulted by his attitude and position and are not short of ways to express themselves but we also take into consideration the fact that there other positive developments like President Sarkozy’s approach and efforts to have the situation left in our past”.

On whether the uprising in North Africa by the citizenry in response to governance problems is a wake-up call to African leaders who are determined to die in office and don’t want to be accountable to their people, President Kagame pointed out that all leaders know that governance issues have consequences for the future of any country:

“Poverty and corruption deprive people of their dignity and any leader should know this before things blow up in one place or another – we just need to always do what is right. Places where governance issues persist and leaders are disconnected from their people, no matter how long it takes, things will blow up. Leaders should not wait for their citizens to move to the streets and fight for their rights because this can be prevented by giving good service to the people.”

President Kagame differed with the notion that the absence of an access to information law was impeding follow-up on information on government policies, observing that the problem was in implementation rather than absence of policy.

“There are areas you will find good laws but the practice is different. There are also areas that you find good practice yet there is lack of policy – but the two have to go hand in hand. I am not saying that laws should not be put in place – they should be. If you see what we have done on the ground to ease information and communication, you will realize that the country is ahead of many countries in the region and the availability of that matters more”.

The Minister of Justice clarified further that Rwandan bureaucrats are always available to provide information to members of the press at whatever time it is needed even in absence of the access to information law.