U.N. peace­keep­ing pick for Dar­fur tied to war crimes

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Betsy Pisik

NEW YORK — The Rwan­dan gen­eral se­lected as deputy com­man­der of the U.N. peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Dar­fur is sus­pected of com­mit­ting war crimes re­lated to the 1994 Rwan­dan geno­cide, U.N. of­fi­cials say.

Maj. Gen. Karenzi Karake, 46, was ac­cused by Bel­gian-based United Demo­cratic Forces-Inkingi, an um­brella group of Rwan­dan op­po­si­tion­ists, of or­der­ing po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tions be­fore the 1994 geno­cide, and af­ter­ward, of or­der­ing or over­see­ing mas­sacres of Rwan­dan refugees in Con­golese camps.

The U.N. peace­keep­ing de­part­ment, which is try­ing to put to­gether a $2 bil­lion mis­sion in Su­dan’s west­ern prov­ince of Dar­fur by De­cem­ber, has asked Rwanda to with­draw Gen. Karake’s name un­til the gen­eral can be prop­erly vet­ted. Rwanda has re­fused. Gen. Karake, a high-rank­ing mem­ber of the Rwan­dan army’s mil­i­tary and intelligence units, was nom­i­nated to the post by Rwanda’s gov­ern­ment and ap­proved as the No. 2 of­fi­cial for the joint mis­sion by the African Union (AU) and United Na­tions.

Rwanda is cur­rently led by a Tutsi po­lit­i­cal move­ment which came to power af­ter the 1994 geno­cide by the then-rul­ing Hutu. The early 1990s in Rwanda fea­tured a civil war be- tween the rul­ing Hutu and Tutsi ex­iles seek­ing to re­turn to power.

“We are talk­ing to other par­ties [. . . ] in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions deal­ing with hu­man rights to find out if there is any ba­sis for the al­le­ga­tions,” U.N. spokes­woman Michele Mon­tas told re­porters last week.

U.N. of­fi­cials have also been talk­ing to the Rwan­dan gov­ern­ment, which says the charges against Gen. Karake are un­founded.

Rwanda’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Joseph Nsen­gi­mana dis­missed the ac­cu­sa­tions as a dis­si­dent ef­fort to dis­credit his na­tion’s mil­i­tary.

“Gen­eral Karake is a very good sol­dier. [. . . ] I know that per­son­ally,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “And that is why [African Union Chair­man Al­pha Omar] Konare of Mali rec­om­mended him for this job.”

Mr. Nsen­gi­mana said that the gen­eral had not been ac­cused of any­thing un­til now.

The Rwan­dan am­bas­sador also warned that Gen. Karenzi’s re­moval could jeop­ar­dize the mis­sion in Dar­fur, the parched re­gion of west­ern Su­dan where an es­ti­mated 250,000 civil­ians have been killed in a civil war.

“Be­fore they re­move Karenzi they have to think about the con­se­quences of say­ing to Rwanda ‘you have no place in UNAMID,’ “ Mr. Nsen­gi­mana said, us­ing the acro­nym for the U.N. mis­sion, called the U.N. As­sis­tance Mis­sion in Dar­fur.

The Rwan­dan ex­ile group ac­cuses the gen­eral of or­der­ing an as­sault against Rwan­dan refugees in the Kibeho re­gion of Rwanda on April 2, 1995.

Hu­man rights groups say they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing his role in a mas­sacre at Ndere, in the east­ern part of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo.

One of sev­eral hu­man rights groups — which did not wish to be iden­ti­fied for the se­cu­rity of in­di­vid­u­als who are work­ing with them — said it had its own con­cerns about Gen. Karake be­fore the ex­ile group went pub­lic.

“We do find cred­i­ble the ac­cu­sa­tions,” said an of­fi­cial with an in­ter­na­tional group. “We all know op­po­si­tion groups are quite ca­pa­ble of com­ing up with in­sane and slan­der­ous al­le­ga­tions. But we had heard of this.”

Rwanda is con­tribut­ing some 3,000 sol­diers and po­lice to the 7,000 African Union mis­sion cur­rently in Dar­fur, and is ex­pected to be a back­bone of an ex­panded AU-U.N. ef­fort.

Its sol­diers are among the best trained and equipped in Africa.

“It’s not re­ally the num­bers, but the qual­ity,” said one U.N. peace­keep­ing of­fi­cial.

In Geneva on Aug. 21, the U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights is­sued a grim re­port de­tail­ing the ab­duc­tion, rape and sex­ual vi­o­lence im­posed on women and chil­dren of south Dar­fur by Su­danese sol­diers and mili­tias.

The re­port also says the Su­danese gov­ern­ment has not mounted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of U.N. com­plaints.

Mil­lions of civil­ians have been driven into squalid refugee camps by the fight­ing.

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Res­i­dents of Otash in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple’s camp on the out­skirts of Nyala town, the cap­i­tal of south­ern Dar­fur, lis­ten to an Aug. 17 speech by Rodolphe Adada, African Union-United Na­tions Joint Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Dar­fur and Head of Mis­sion for the African Union Mis­sion in the Su­dan (AMIS).

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