Invited by the prosecution to testify as an expert-witness, Roméo Dallaire gave a meticulous account of his experiences in Rwanda, of his change from the Canadian armed forces to the UN in July 1993, to his powerlessness with the genocide between April and July 1994.
The three-star General told of his difficulties to apply the political aspects of the Arusha agreements, signed in september 1993, which the installation of a transition government constituted the major point. As of 22 October 1993 and his arrival in Kigali as a commander of the UNAMIR, he noted "political tension from the various parties which were to compose the transition government ".
The peace agreement signed in Tanzania planned for a power sharing between the presidential party, MRND, and the RPF rebellion led by Paul Kagamé at the latest 1 January 1994. Mr. Dallaire tells of the optimism which he had at the beginning of January 1994: "We thought that it was possible", "on January 4 the agreement seemed to be accepted by everyone".
However, the following day the reversal of certain parties annulled and voided all the preceding negotiations: only President Habyarimana was sworn in. "The political situation really became out of control", he continued before the Quebec Superior Court.
In a "tension which continued to increase in Kigali", UNAMIR assisted to the training of the Interahamwe militias, " young people of the MRND party who made a lot of hubbub, who dressed very distinctly and who became increasingly more aggressive", tells the 61-year-old soldier before a packed hearing (a second retransmission room had to be arranged).
Confronted with this danger of losing control and informed of the presence of weapons in the Rwandan capital, Mr. Dallaire said that he sought to act according to the means and attributions' of his mandate.
He continued his account like a course on geopolitics (the defence asked him to support his statements with the charts of Rwanda and Kigali behind him) by telling about the hours, then the days, which followed the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana, 6 April 1994.
On 8 April, as the RPF battalion had just left its barracks in Kigali and that the governmental troops were deployed, the General conceded that "at that time, there was no more peace agreement: on both sides, I have groups preparing armed actions... I no longer have a mandate. The RPF and the governmental forces prepared for war ".
Throughout his testimony, Désiré Munyaneza, who has been on trial for six months for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, remained very calm. He wore of a beige suit, he did not stop taking notes on the testimony of the former UNAMIR commander.
© Hirondelle News Agency