Rwanda opposition in Diaspora and Congolese activists have Friday gathered at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague to submit a request for an investigation into reports that President Paul Kagame bankrolls the operations of M23 rebels.
The activists are being led by Rwanda National Congress’ (RNC) bosses - Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa and Col. Patrick Karegeya – who are Kagame’s political rivals.
The groups claim Kagame’s alleged support of M23 has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Eastern DRC leading to the displacement of thousands of refugees to Uganda and Rwanda.
They also allege that by supporting M23 rebels, Kagame is aiding war crimes which he should answer for.
Kagame has vehemently denied backing the rebels, insisting Kigali has not contributed even “one bullet” to the conflict.
“Rwanda was blamed, sentenced and then asked for its opinion. People on the ground, including experts, find a way to shift the blame from DRC to Rwanda. When DRC’s military solution did not succeed, the conclusion became that it must be Rwanda that they are fighting,” Kagame told the East African Summit in Kigali last week.
Responding a few weeks ago to threats that he would face ICC over war crimes, Kagame said: “Forget about grand-standing of arrogant bullies who don't care about justice of others and only pretend and use lies. They have never done justice anywhere...all are just false claims of righteousness used to dominate ….by some!”
He described as “laughable” calls for his prosecution.
Kagame further noted that the westerners only display “gross ignorance and “being irresponsible” when dealing with African issues.
“Those saying that (war crimes) are the ones responsible for the crimes will come, run over everything like other people don't matter, then when things explode, they will come around and blame you for it even if they are the one who caused the problem,” he added.
Kagame further said the United Nations Group of Experts report that pinned Rwanda on supporting M23 rebels was full of “hearsay and blatant lies.”
It’s yet unclear whether ICC would pick interest in the case against Kagame. It’s also important to note that Rwanda is not a signatory to the Rome Statute.
RAPP DENIES KAGAME FACES WAR CRIMES
The development comes hardly a week when Amb. Stephen Rapp, the head of the US office of Global Criminal Justice, told journalists in Kigali, that he was misquoted by the British Guardian newspaper that Kagame and Rwanda army officers faced war crimes over M23.
“I made it clear that in my observation, to date, in terms of mass killings, rapes and atrocities, I do not see evidence of M23 having engaged in that level,” said Rapp.
“Three to four weeks ago, I was interviewed about the case regarding Charles Taylor and the meaning of that case internationally and what it means for all countries in the world…. There is no comparison between them and RUF (Revolutionary United Front),” Rapp was quoted by the New Times as saying.
Rapp said that while Washington believes Rwanda was backing M23 rebels “I didn’t believe that there is criminal responsibility in any kind of cross border support.”
“What I said is that one can be held responsible for crimes even when you don’t cross the border if you provide aid to a group that is committing atrocities and you know they are using it in that way and you continue to provide it, that’s how we successfully prosecuted Charles Taylor.”
He added: “I did note, however, that obviously if they (M23) were to engage in those kinds of crimes, and the aid that would be provided to them, we would have that kind of situation”.
“(The Guardian) headline had names we didn’t mention; they drew conclusions from my statements, and added a headline that was incorrect”.
Sources in the diplomatic community say the Rwanda opposition in Diaspora are playing the last card as most Tutsi are deserting them and they want to prove to exiled Hutu that they on their side in exchange to their cooperation to remove President Kagame from power.
“I am afraid the case will not take off because there is no tangible evidence to link Kigali to M23 to warrant war crimes prosecution. The second reason is that this is viewed as a revenge case masterminded by Hutus against President Kagame,” the source who preferred anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to press, told Chimpreports.com news desk by telephone.