08.10.07 - ICTR/GOVERNEMENT II - BICAMUMPAKA REMINDS OF THE ISOLATION OF THE RWANDAN GOVERNMENT

  Arusha, 8 October 2007 (FH) - The testimony of the former Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jérome Bicamumpaka, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) reminded to what point the Rwandan government was isolated at the time of the 1994 genocide.
1 min 26Approximate reading time

 
For three weeks, Bicamumpaka, who is on trial alongside three other ministers of the government in place during the 1994 genocide, has tried to show that he is not guilty of genocide or crimes against humanity. Their trial started in November 2003. The four ministers have pled not guilty.
 
At the risk of hindering his case, the former head of Rwandan diplomacy explained to the tribunal that the interim government set up after the plane crash of President Habyarimana and the systematic assassination of all the people likely to constitutionally replace him, functioned normally.
 
Documents in one hand and a passport in the other, he stated that he did nothing but travel to try to get recognition of his government by Western countries. But aside from France and Germany, it seems that he was rejected by the rest of the Western world; in particular by Anglophone countries that supported the RPF rebellion.
 
Many appeals were sent to the United Nations to denounce the aggression that attacked his country from Uganda; but nothing was done, he explained. Despite the support of French diplomats, he did not manage to obtain any other appointments with diplomatic representatives. Also, he explained, the attempts to obtain a ceasefire with the RPF remained unanswered.
 
The principal evidence produced by Bicamumpaka is perhaps his passport which shows that he was, as of his nomination, sent to Bujumbura to attend the funeral of the Burundian president, then to the DRC, France, Germany, the United States, before going to the AU in Tunis.
 
The head of Rwandan diplomacy vainly tried to establish diplomatic relations everywhere, but his government was already "persona non grata" and all his requests for meetings with, in particular American officials, were rejected. On the other hand, he provided evidence of a report from the American State Department showing the existence of a telephone conversation between an American official and Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, accused before the ICTR of being the mastermind of the genocide.
 
PB/AT/MM

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