Rwandan President Paul Kagame has endorsed the ongoing UN-authorised bombing raids on Libya, arguing the situation in the North African country had degenerated “beyond” what the African Union could handle.
In an interview with our reporter in London on Monday, shortly after he delivered a keynote address at The Times CEO Summit Africa, Mr Kagame said Rwanda supports the no-fly zone that the UN Security Council imposed on Libya last week.
“Rwanda’s position is Africa Union’s position. Africa Union position was that there was need to understand what was going on in Libya and based on that, then action taken be supported,” he said. “But what was happening on the ground was beyond what was Africa’s position.”
President Kagame added: “That is how the UN Security Council, including African countries that sit on it, decided.” Ten of the 15 members of the Security Council, including South Africa, voted in favour of the resolution co-sponsored by the UK, France and Qatar while five nations, among them veto-power wielding China and Russia, abstained. The Arab League to which Libya belongs made the first calls for a no-fly zone after it emerged Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were bombing civilians indiscriminately.
The UK and France, under American central command, began bombarding and disabling Libyan air defence systems. Col. Gaddafi’s 42-year rule has been swaying since last month, after peaceful demonstrators-turned-rebels, took control of significant parts of the oil-rich Libya, demanding their President step down.
Col. Gaddafi allegedly responded with brute force, firing missile and heavy artillery, and succeeding in pushing back the advancing rebels.
He vowed on the eve of the ongoing blitz, to show “no mercy” in home-to-home military operations in Benghazi, the de-facto capital of the insurgents, but columns of battle tanks his troops powered to launch assault on the rebels were by the weekend charred metal crafts, demolished by superior fire-power of allied forces.
Mr Kagame’s views, in relation to a question from this newspaper, even when unrelated, sharply contrasts with that of Ugandan President Museveni, who has chosen to criticise UN and blanket security over Libya.
Mr Museveni, who preferred Africans tackled the Gaddafi situation, was one of four Presidents from the continent, charged by African Union to do fact-finding in Tripoli and explore ways of negotiated end to the unrest.
Col. Gaddafi had reportedly agreed to meet the AU High Level Ad-hoc Committee, which was on Saturday turned away from the Libyan airspace now firmly under control of the international community.
Mr Museveni wrote a missive to media outlets on Sunday, saying military action against Gaddafi’s regime lacked “impeachable logic”, showed the West’s “double standards” and could trigger an arms race.
“I am quite sure that many countries that are able will scale up their military research and in a few decades we may have a more armed world. This weapons science is not magic,” he wrote.
The disparate views of Mr Museveni and Mr Kagame show how sensitive and divisive tackling Gaddafi’s reported transgressions against his citizens would be for his African peers.