Kigali, 15 October 2013
President Kagame has said that Rwanda had its misgivings on ICC right at inception, because there was a feeling that this was another international institution that was going to be abused and the victims would be weak nations.
While meeting with local and international media today, President Kagame said the situation today makes him and others who had the same feeling convinced that they were right:
“Our stand is not in any way related to what is happening in Kenya. Kenya only serves as a good example of the problems at the ICC. This relates to another problem also that we have discussed at the AU and is now with the UN General Assembly. It relates to Universal Jurisdiction where some lower courts or a local judge from some nations wake up and decide to indict officials of another country. When you look at the nature of cases that were affecting us in France or Spain,you will see that they are of a political nature instigated by some local judges somewhere. If you call it universal jurisdiction, it means it can happen with judges in Spain, in France, in Rwanda or other nations. However, this is not the practice. There are people who have the power to use international law to judge others but it does not apply to them. You find mostly that this is used either against people who they think do not serve their interests or to determined leaders of countries and it happens only in one direction. Why should we accept to have a world that is like this?
Responding to a question on whether Rwanda recruits child soldiers as stated by the US State Department recently, President Kagame said the integrity, professionalism and discipline of the Rwanda army are well known all over the world and therefore cannot recruit children in its ranks. However, President Kagame said Rwanda and the US are still good friends and are working together in many ways.
President Kagame said elevation of women in various spheres of life in Rwanda is still work in progress and that the ultimate objective is to finally make it a way of life without necessarily having to employ affirmative action.
Concerning emerging perceptions that Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya may be trying to exclude Tanzania and Burundi from East African matters, President Kagame said:
“Ordinarily we are supposed to have five countries in the community. On some issues, some countries are behind others in terms of implementation depending on where individual countries come from. The best starting point, if we can do it, is for all of us to be at the same starting point. But there is another way of looking at it and say that if we wait for everyone to be at the same level, there is a danger that we might never move forward. Therefore, those who are ready should move forward on some aspects as fast as they can, as long as they keep the original objective, and help others to catch up where necessary. This has an effect of accelerating the East African integration.”
President Kagame assured Rwandans that problems in Congo have repercussion on Rwanda and Rwandans and that although Rwanda may have not be able to do anything about that, the country has the capacity protect the population from any harm by making sure what is happening in Congo does not affect them.
“Problems in Congo have been there for long, and focus for everyone should be on finding a solution. We have been having bombs landing on our side and killing our people and we said enough is enough and it had to stop, and fortunately it stopped. It was not so much about us going there to do anything because we don’t need to do that. Our belief is that what is important is for the confusion and suffering across should stop. Today there are efforts in the region and beyond to try and calm the situation and find a solution and that is what we are all involved in. Rwanda does not want to feel like victims in any situation.”
On the issue of reported problems between Tanzania and Rwanda, President Kagame said it is difficult for one country to tell another one what to do, but that there have been discussions between the two countries aimed at trying to make people understand the situation and come up with a better way of handling the situation.
Commenting on the ongoing Nd’Umunyarwanda campaign, President Kagame said this is a continued fortification of the reconciliation drive aimed at promoting national cohesion. President Kagame said this is a national dialogue based on truth which will facilitate healing of society.