The United Nations General Annual Assembly was held in New York over this week. Most of the heads of states around the World were there. As usual traffic in New York was a nightmare. But beyond the traffic and the show of riches by heads of states, eyes were focused on an event organized by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon: a roundtable on the situation on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where Rwandan government supported M23 rebels have been playing havoc, raping women, mass murdering civilians, and looting (see our article here).
The event, attended by most of the influential African leaders in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa ended with one major consensus: DRC President Joseph Kabila’s usually erratic diplomacy has been slowly gaining much needed respect, whereas Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s diplomacy, usually well coordinated and smooth, is in shatters.
The consensus was validated by the reaction by the international community following the speeches and arguments by the two African leaders: Joseph Kabila was encouraged to deal with the issues facing his country, whereas Paul Kagame was blamed for the chaos, rapes, mass murders, and humanitarian tragedy plaguing Eastern DRC. Apparently used to receiving accolades, Paul Kagame was not amused. He stormed out of the meeting room when the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders started piling accusations on the Rwandan government and military.
The international community was not amused either. Participants to the UN roundtable cautioned Rwandan leaders supporting M23 that they could also be held accountable for atrocities committed by M23 rebels and the European Union decided to suspend aid to Rwanda, echoing the decision by the Netherlands, the US, Sweden, and Great Britain. Great Britain new Secretary of International Development Justine Greening, announced the decision to review the aid to Rwanda, reversing the position of her predecessor Andrew Mitchell to unblock, on September 4, 2012 his very last day in office as Secretary of State for International Development, half the £16 millions aid to Rwandan that was suspended in July 2012. Andrew Mitchell’s decision has met wide condemnation in UK and Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is expected that Secretary Justine Greening will likely cancel the decision by Andrew Mitchell to unblock aid to Rwanda. The World Bank is also being pressured by NGO and European governments to review and eventually suspend economic aid to Rwanda.
The poor performance by Paul Kagame in New York did not provide arguments for his friends to plead his case. How could Paul Kagame’s friends help when where Joseph Kabila was pleading for understanding and sanctions, Paul Kagame was putting up a show of tantrums and arrogance!
How did Paul Kagame get there.
AfroAmerica Network had predicted the outcome in our article “The Dilemma of General Paul Kagame of Rwanda: Between Hardliners and Opposition” of September 14, 2012. Hence, Paul Kagame was warned. But events may have gone farther that he expected: he was received by hundreds of angry Rwandan protesters in Boston on September 22, 2012. The organizers of Rwandan Day event had to whisk him, in and away, by a back door to get him into the meeting and exposition rooms. Hence he was spared the accusatory statements and graphic images on the posters held by protesters depicting his alleged crimes in Rwanda, the DRC and around the World.
Because of his previous scandalous spending in New York on his previous trips, (see our article The Dilemma of Dictators Part IV: One Down, More to Go: Focus on Paul Kagame of Rwanda of October 23, 2011) he pretty much took a very low profile. He appeared at the Clinton Global Initiative event but left most of the side diplomatic and public relations activities and speeches to his wife, Janet Kagame. Hence, it was Janet Kagame at the RAND Initiative for African First Ladies in New York on Wednesday; it was her at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative; it was her here and there. Janet Kagame is even expected to be back in New York on October 10, 2012 to attend the CNN Inspire Summit.
Does Paul Kagame’s waning star mark the sunrise for his wife?
Paul Kagame vs Joseph Kabila: the perpetual dilemma.
Joseph Kabila is the creation of Paul Kagame’s political machine. Hence so far, Joseph Kabila has relied on Paul Kagame to survive. However, given Joseph Kabila latest outstanding performance in New York and his veiled accusations against Rwanda, the balance of influence may be shifting.
DRC is a prized jewel and Rwanda has always played the role of a trampoline to get there. Perhaps the trampoline is no longer needed as Joseph Kabila is weaning himself off Paul Kagame’s mentoring.
Hence, Paul Kagame needs a reality check. That is why our articles, The Dilemma of General Paul Kagame of Rwanda: Between Hardliners and Opposition” of September 14, 2012. and DRC: what to do? Experts’s View of August 23, 2012, are still relevant and may teach both Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame a few lessons. Lessons they should not ignore.
According to sources at the UN, despite all the Paul Kagame’s denials and tantrums, Paul Kagame and his delegation confided to the sources of their embarrassment by the UN Experts’ findings and that they have reduced the military aid to M23 rebels. Perhaps this is a first step.
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