Rwanda suggests military option for Kenya crisis
The leader of Rwanda, which suffered a genocide in 1994, said intervention by the military may be the only way to halt Kenya’s escalating ethnic bloodshed.
“This is a case of emergency where certain things have to be done very quickly to stop the killings that are going on. There’s no time to go into niceties and debates when the killings are taking place,” President Paul Kagame told Reuters.
Unrest in Kenya since President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election last month has killed about 850 people.
Though Kenyans are horrified by the brutal events in their usually peaceful nation, the situation is far from the ethnic slaughter that killed 800,000 in Rwanda in a three-month killing spree that shocked the world in 1994.
Kagame said the Kenyan army might have to take over before things get worse.
“I know that it is not fashionable and right for the armies to get involved in such a political situation. But in situations where institutions have lost control, I wouldn’t mind such a solution,” he said.
“I tend to believe that the Kenyan army is professional and has been stable,” he added in the interview late on Tuesday.
Kagame, a former rebel leader who marched on Kigali as the genocide was taking place, said he backed mediation efforts headed by former U.N. head Kofi Annan, and that any military takeover should only be temporary.
“I tend to suggest that maybe whatever in terms of leadership that is there should be swept aside and space be created for people to go back on the drawing board and settle their grievances,” Kagame said.
As with other countries in the region, Rwanda’s economy has been affected by the chaos in Kenya, as goods and fuel which travel by road from the Indian Ocean coast have been blocked.
Kagame said Kenya ought to learn a lesson from the central African country’s bloody history.
“It starts with five deaths, then 10, then 50, shortly it grows to 100, then it goes to thousands … By the time you realise, it has a dimension that is wiping out life in villages and communities and is getting out of control and the whole political situation is in a mess,” he said.
“There’s a serious tragic situation taking place in Kenya, especially when you look at the numbers of people that are being killed, how they are being killed. Despite all mediation efforts you see a situation not getting better but worse.”
Kagame said he knew his suggestion of military intervention was a radical one.
“I might sound controversial but in the wake of such senseless killings with no immediate solution, if anybody suggested that (military) option to me, I would say I agree with it,” he said.
“It is not too late for Kenyans to look back and see how our country went down the drain in the past and I don’t think we would wish a similar thing for any country.”