Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mr. Paul Kagame of Rwanda

This just made my week.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame says his country will cement its bitter divorce from France, which he holds responsible for the 1994 slaughter of up to one million of his countrymen, by joining the British Commonwealth.

"There are many benefits for us in joining the Commonwealth - cultural, economic, political. I hope they will then (November) approve our membership. I am looking forward to it."

Mr Kagame on France's role in Africa,

"They are the ones who armed and trained the militias ... the evidence is everywhere. They continued to do so even after the genocide started. The entire experience of France and French influence (in Africa) has been negative."

The bitter relations between the two countries came to a head in November when a French judge accused Mr Kagame and several of his top aides of shooting down the aircraft carrying former president Juvenal Habyarimana. The incident triggered the 100-day massacre of Tutsis and of moderate Hutus opposed to his regime.

Rwanda retaliated by severing diplomatic relations with Paris. Thousands of infuriated Rwandans took to the street in government-supported anti-French protests.

Rwanda, like neighbouring Burundi, was colonised by Belgium but after independence in the 1960s was close to France, which sent forces to help Habyarimana repel Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels in 1990. Mr Kagame was brought up as a refugee in neighbouring Uganda, where he learned to play cricket.

And he has even set up a Rwandan Cricket Board.

Just wonderful!