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RWANDA: Félicien Kabuga pleads not guilty

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The alleged “financier” of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda appeared on Wednesday 11 November 2020 at the International Tribunal in The Hague for the first time. He pleaded not guilty.

The 80-year-old was arrested on 16 May 2020 in Asnières-sur-Seine, France, after 23 years on the run. Félicien Kabuga managed to escape the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1997 thanks to his strong network and his wealth. Neither Washington nor its Interpol file, nor even a bid of $5 million, had made it possible to find the businessman. The latter has long continued its trade in northern Rwanda from Kenya thanks to the support of the former president. 

He is being prosecuted on seven counts, including genocide and complicity in genocide.However, he does not recognize the crimes for which he was charged, pleading not guilty during the hearing in which he briefly spoke. 

During this hearing which is not yet the opening of a trial, the prosecutor Serge Brammertz in charge of this case and his teams are working on updating the indictment act which dates from 2011 or 10 years.Testimony already available and probably more to come will be added to the court record. This part of the work could be completed by mid-January, according to the prosecutor.

As a reminder, the Rwandan genocide had caused 800,000 deaths mainly of Tutsis according to the UN.

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POLITICS

RWANDA – Félicien Kabuga before the judges for his “substantial” role in the genocide

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On 29 September 2022, the trial of the former businessman, Félicien Kabuga, began with the opening statement of the prosecutor, in The Hague, before the Mechanism in charge of the last cases of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This trial is passionate on the one hand because it contributes to the settlement of the Rwandan conflict, and on the other because Félicien Kabuga is one of the last key actors of this conflict.

During the hearing on 29 September, the prosecutor, in his opening statement, detailed “the charges against the accused and assured him that he intends to present the evidence of his charges at trial in order to obtain the conviction of Félicien Kabuga.” The businessman is charged with six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda between April and July 1994. Considered one of the key actors in this conflict, the justice suspects him of having financed the genocide of the Tutsi, an ethnic minority in Rwanda. At the outset of the trial, the prosecution stated that Mr. Félicien Kabuga had a “substantial” role in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

That’s the crux of the charge. The whole case against the former businessman revolves around the word “substantial”. The court blames Kabuga for having provided «material, logistical, financial and moral support» to the Interahamwe militias. The prosecutor accused him of having created the “national defence fund” to raise money and arm the interahamwes militias. Moreover, he accused Félicien Kabuga, one of the founders of the Radio-Télévision libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), of having to distil «an anti-Tutsis speech with the aim of eliminating the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda».

For thirty years, Félicien Kabuga, after a short stay in Switzerland from where he was deported, went underground. Thanks to money and a network of loyal friends, he thwarts the operations of Interpol and the ICTR every time. On 16 May 2020, in the Paris suburbs, he was arrested by the French police. At 87, this tired and sick octogenarian must face justice. For health reasons, his lawyers tried every avenue possible to request a stay of proceedings. The courts dismissed them. He will be tried. Until 29 September 2022, the day before his trial, the accused sent letters to the judges. He said he was not going to appear in court for the opening of his trial. The reason: he wants to change lawyers: Me Emmanuel Altit, one of the lawyers of the former Ivorian Head of State, Laurent Gbagbo before the International Criminal Court. The Court did not grant his request. Félicien Kabuga will therefore be satisfied with Emmanuel Altit. While the latter wished to be defended by Me Peter Robinson.

Egide Nkuranga, president of the main survivor organization, Ibuka, remains “concerned.” According to him, “His lawyers and family [Félicien Kabuga] are trying to flee justice.” “He continues to flee justice as he has always done.” It is still a long legal procedure that opens with this trial.

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CENTRAL AFRICA

RWANDA: The country ranked 1st African country and 6th worldwide in the management of Covid-19

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Rwanda was ranked, in a report published by the Lowy Institute, first country in the management of the coronavirus pandemic and 6th in the world. The study covers 98 countries and is based on public data, population, level of development among others.

The Lowy Sydney Institute (ILS), an Australian think tank based in Syndey, has released its latest report on handling the coronavirus pandemic. And it is Rwanda that takes the lead in this ranking in Africa and places 6th in the world with a score of 80.8 / 100.

In order to establish its ranking, the think tank took into account a number of key indicators, including confirmed cases, deaths per million people as well as the proportion of tests. At the continental level, Rwanda is followed by Togo (72.8) and Tunisia (66.7). Mozambique is in 4th place (60.2) ahead of Malawi (60.2). At the international level, the prize goes to New Zealand (94.4), which takes first place in pandemic management. It is followed by Vietnam (90.8), Taiwan (86.4), Thailand (84.2) and Cyprus (83.3). Brazil was voted the worst student in this ranking with an average of 4.3.

However, the institute said no political system comes out on top in terms of dealing with the pandemic. “Some countries handled it better than others, but most countries stood out only for their poor performance,” the study reports. The report also showed that smaller populations, cohesive societies and capable institutions were important factors in the success of the pandemic fight.

Rwanda has increased its screening capacity, with more than 4,000 daily tests. Since the start of the pandemic, 14,529 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Rwanda, including 183 deaths, or 1.3% of those infected.

Ranking of African countries in terms of management of the covid-19 pandemic according to the Lowy Institute

Rank (Africa) Country World rank) Score out of 100
1 Rwanda 6th 80.8

2 Togo 15th 72.8

3 Tunisia 21st 66.7

4 Mozambique 26th 60.2

5 Malawi 27th 60.2

6 Zambia 29th 59.8

7 Uganda 30th 59.7

8 Ivory Coast 34th 57.9

9 Senegal 36th 55.9

10 Zimbabwe 38th 54.9

11 DRC 39th 54.9

12 Madagascar 40th 54.2

13 Ghana 41st 53.8

14 Ethiopia 46th 49.1

15 Kenya 48th 48.2

16 Nigeria 49th 47.4

17 Namibia 57th 42

18 Morocco 68th 37.1

19 Libya 77th 31.7

20 South Africa 82nd 25.4

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CENTRAL AFRICA

RWANDA: President Paul Kagame addressed to the nation

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame addressed to the nation in an in-depth speech. A speech where he gave the socio-economic and political portrait of the country but the global health crisis related to covid-19.

At this time last year we were gathered for our annual Umushyikirano. I was able to tell you that the state of our nation was good and that it was true. Even after that, at the end of the year, I told you that 2019 was a good year for us and I hoped that 2020 would be even better. If you remember, I also said that it’s not easy to know what’s coming.

Only a few months later, we were faced with a global pandemic that lasted most of the year.
Despite the shock of COVID-19 and the many adjustments we have had to make, I want to reassure Rwandans that the state of our country remains solid. The reason is clear. I would like to thank all Rwandans for their commitment, collaboration and hard work, which you have shown, and for your willingness to help meet this challenge.

The Rwandans responded to the challenge, as did our institutions. We need to get used to living with this pandemic that is still out there and continue to fight for our lives to continue.

It was based on trust between citizens and leaders, through our institutions. Our history, our policy, puts citizens at the centre and always strives to improve their livelihoods. We have seen the benefits of the investments that Rwanda has made. These actions have increased the natural resilience of our population and mitigated the negative impacts of the pandemic….

The total dissolved:

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