/ 5 July 2004

Lekota in Rwanda for defence agreement

Minister of Defence Mosiuoa Lekota arrived in Rwanda on Monday to sign a defence agreement with his counterpart, General Gatsinzi Marcel.

Lekota said on his arrival that, like many others, he is concerned about the status of Africa.

“We are here to sign the agreement, exchange views and discuss further ways of collaboration,” said Lekota.

He said he also wants to add his personal regret of humanity’s failure to intervene timeously to stop the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

His visit coincides with the 10th anniversary of the genocide in which an estimated 800 000 people were massacred in 100 days.

“We must raise the levels of sensitivity among Africans, the world and the United Nations so that never again will so many humans be slaughtered,” he said.

The defence agreement, which is expected to include clauses on training and weapons supply, comes weeks after a similar agreement was signed in Pretoria with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of Rwanda’s neighbours.

“We have been negotiating this agreement for a while and now it has come time to sign it,” said Lekota.

The agreements have raised eyebrows at Amnesty International (AI), the human rights organisation, which believes they are not in the interests of regional peace.

According to the weekly newspaper Rapport, AI’s South Africa spokesperson Samkelo Mokhine said his organisation is against the deal.

“We are against the supply of weapons or training in any area with active conflict, and the DRC is such a place,” he said.

Mokhine also said AI is against the Rwandan agreement because many of the weapons used in the DRC are smuggled through Rwanda.

Lekota is expected to back in South Africa on Wednesday following a visit to the genocide memorial. — Sapa

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