Rwanda asks German envoy to leave in growing row

Rwanda asked the German ambassador to leave Kigali on Tuesday in a growing row over Germany’s arrest of a senior aide to President Paul Kagame.

Rose Kabuye, director general of state protocol in Rwanda, was arrested at Frankfurt airport on Sunday by German police acting on an international warrant issued by France in 2006 for her and eight other Kagame associates.

She had arrived in Germany to prepare for a visit by Kagame, who is touring European countries. He was in Frankfurt on Tuesday and condemned her detention.

“We’ve asked the German ambassador to leave until this matter is resolved,” Rwandan Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali said in Kigali, adding that Rwanda had also recalled its ambassador from Berlin for consultations.

“We have not broken ties with Germany at all,” she said. “It’s not a permanent move.”

In Germany, the Foreign Ministry said its ambassador would return to Berlin for consultations.

“We hope the German ambassador in Rwanda as well as the Rwandan ambassador in Germany will soon be able to return to their duty posts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Kabuye is accused of involvement in the 1994 shooting down of a plane that killed former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, leading to a campaign of genocide that left 800 000 dead in the Central African nation.

Asked at a news conference whether the arrest could have an impact on cooperation between Rwanda and the European Union on resolving the crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kagame said: “Certainly the arrest of Rose has some implications, foreseen or unforeseen, because in many ways it’s a violation of the sovereignty of Rwanda.”

Kagame said the arrest would affect his country’s relationship with France and Germany.

“We will see how we can challenge such actions, which in my view are simply a question of being arrogant and people being a law unto themselves,” he said after visiting Kabuye in prison.

Kagame said he expected Germany to extradite her to France within days.
Kabuye’s lawyer has said she is willing to go before a French judge.

Ties between France and Rwanda have been badly strained since the warrants were issued and on Monday hundreds of people, including Kabuye’s husband, protested outside the German Embassy in Kigali, chanting “Free Rose, Free Rose”.

The German government said it was obliged to act on the arrest warrant.

Habyarimana’s plane was hit by a missile in 1994 and his death ignited mass killings of Tutsis and some moderate Hutus. Kagame was then leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front which defeated the government’s Hutu militias to end the genocide.

In April, Kagame made a four-day state visit to Germany. According to media reports, Kabuye was on that trip but German law prohibits the detention of any members of an official delegation.

When she was arrested on Sunday, Kabuye was not with the president, German prosecutors say, and thus not protected by diplomatic immunity.

“Rose’s visit to Germany was not private. It was official in that she was doing the work of the Rwandan president,” Kagame said. - Reuters

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