Ceasefire or not, from now until the genocide began in April 1994
Rwanda would become the third largest importer of weapons in Africa.
An estimated US$100 million was spent on arms by this tiny African country.
RWANDA ARMED FOR GENOCIDE
US$216 million of international funding had been earmarked for Rwanda.
The country's economy was now in the hands of the World Bank and the IMF.
Sizeable portions of quick disbursing loans were diverted by the regime
towards the acquisition of military hardware.
excerpt from A PEOPLE BETRAYED
by Linda Melvern, pages 30-36:
...President Yoweri Museveni's assessment was correct: the 1990 RPF invasion did cause international uproar and the amount of support given to the Habyarimana regime shocked the RPF leadership. Troops were sent from the Congo, Zaire and Kenya in support of Habyarimana. President Mobutu sent his Division Speciale Presidential (DSP). Belgium sent 400 paratroopers to protect the 1,700 Belgium nationals living in Rwanda and the French sent troops. French spotter planes did much to locate the retreating RPF soldiers.
In Paris the RPF offense was portrayed as an invasion by a neighbouring state, considered to be part of a Ugandan plot, which, in turn, was part of a larger post-Cold War attack by 'les anglo-saxons', whose eyes were on French interests in Africa. In French conservative, intelligence and army circles the RPF was anathema. To have abandoned Habyarimana would have been high treason, tantamount to handing Rwanda over to English-speaking rebels. In parts of the French military, Uganda was nick-named 'Tutsi-land'. It was taken for granted that what Museveni wanted was a Tutsi empire. There were policy-makers in France who believed that in Rwanda they were supporting a majority, the Hutu, against a minority, the Tutsi. For them, this justified calling Rwanda 'democratic'. That the majority was identified along ethnic lines did not seem to matter; majority rule legitimized French military and diplomatic support for the regime.
When the RPF invaded in October 1990, Habyarimana immediately telephoned the Eylsee Palace in Paris, where Mitterand kept African affairs a family matter: his son, Jean-Christophe, headed his Africa office. There was a witness there that day. Gerard Prunier, a French political scientist, had gone to the Elysee Palace on another matter. He heard Mitterand's son say that the crisis would be over in a few months.
French troops were dispatched to Rwanda and on 4 October three days after the invasion took place, 300 French paratroopers, from the 2eme Regiment Etranger Parachutiste stationed in the Central African Republic, secured Kigali airport and within a few days more than 600 French troops were in the country to 'protect and evacuate French citizens'. There were also two companies of parachutists and paramilitaries from the French secret service, Direction General de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE), with combat helicopters. France installed soldiers next to the government troops in the north, although the French soldiers were not officially to use weapons. Secretly, the French had operational control of the counter-insurgency campaign. Later on in 1990, a pro-Hutu journal, Kangura, published a full-page photograph of President Francois Mitterand. The caption, in Kinyarwanda, read: 'Great friends, they stand by you during difficult times.'
One privileged insider at the time, a well-informed French colonel, Rene Galine, who was present in Rwanda when the 1990 RPF invsasion occurred, wrote a report to Paris stating that the Habyarimana government feared that the Tutsi were going to re-establish the monarchy in the north, and that if that was the case then it would lead to the elimination of all Tutsi everywhere.
From the moment the RPF invaded Rwanda there was panic in Kigali, while the Habyarimana regime made desperate efforts to increase the armed forces and to buy weapons Rwanda relied on France but the government was desperate for other suppliers. Two weeks after the invasion, one was found.
On Monday, 16 October 1990, the Rwandan ambassador to Egypt, Celestin Kabanda, had gone to a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo. For seven years Egypt had refused to sell arms to Rwanda. Now there was added urgency.
Kabanda's meeting that day was with Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who had not yet launched his campaign to become the sixth Secretary-General of the UN. He was for the time being an obscure professional diplomat, a lawyer and author of books and articles on international law and political science. He was a minister of state for foreign affairs and he had recently helped oversee a state visit to Cairo by Habyarimana. Kabanda said he desperately needed Boutros-Ghali's help and handed him a list of weapons. Egypt had mass-produced cheap weaponry for sale. Buying weapons from Egypt, with its low production costs, showed a competitive advantage. Kabanda wanted Boutros-Ghali to intervene with the Egyptian government on Rwanda's behalf, saying that military aid from Belgium had just been cancelled.
So desperate had Rwanda been in the past to get Egyptian arms that at one point it had even asked for weapons as gifts. Egypt, though, had always declined. The only gift so far was the statue of a pharoah, placed with fanfare in the centre of one of Kigali's strategic roundabouts. During the recent head-of-state meeting in Cairo, Hosni Mubarek, Egypt's president, had told Habyarimana that Egypt could not supply the weapons that Rwanda wanted. Yet, when the meeting with Boutros-Ghali was over, Kabanda was optimistic. He telexed Kigali to tell the Foreign Ministry that Boutros-Ghali had promised his help and assured him that he personally would deal with the request.
Twelve days later, on 28 October, a first arms contract between Rwanda and Egypt was signed. It was for US$5.889 million. The weapons purchased included 60,000 grenades (weighed in kilos), some 2 million rounds of ammunition, 18,000 mortar bombs, both 82mm and 120mm, 4,200 assault rifles, rockets and rocket launchers. The Egyptian signature on the contract was that of Colonel Sami Said Mohamed, chief of the friendly countries branch in the Egyptian Ministry of Defence, and the deal proceeded quickly. The first consignment of weapons, described as 'relief materials' was loaded at Cairo international airport and was flown to Kigali on 28 October in a Boeing 707 by the Egyptian airline ZAS at a cost of US$65,000 for the round trip. Habyarimana gave authority for the money to be paid through the Commercial International Bank of Egypt.
It is not known whether President Mubarak was aware of the details of the arms deal but as a gesture of goodwill he gave Rwanda a gift of two field ambulances, later shipped by sea. There may have been other pressures elsewhere to persuade Egypt to sell arms to Rwanda. But Kabanda later wrote to thank Boutros-Ghali: 'Your personal intervention helped the conclusion of the contract. I thank you sincerely.' Kabanda wrote to his foreign minister, Casimir Buzmungu: 'the personal intervention of Boutros-Ghali with his colleague in the defence ministry was a determining factor in the conclusion of the arms contract for he was following closely the events on our borders.
Bizimungu wrote to Boutros-Ghali on 31 December 1990 to thank him for his help in hastening the arms deal. A year later, when Boutros-Ghali was selected Secretary-General of the UN, he received a telegram of congratulation from Bizimungu who had unforgettable memories of their frank and profitable collaboration reinforcing the friendship between their two countries.
The arms deal with Egypt was kept secret. It came at a time when strenuous international efforts had begun to prevent a civil war between the RPF and the Rwandan government forces. The Belgium prime minister, Wilfried Martens, had flown to Nairobi on 14 October to try to open negotiations between the Rwandan government and the RPF. Peace talks had begun on 17 October with Habyarimana, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania. The talks were facilitated by Mwinyi, who feared the creation of a larger refugee crisis. On 26 October, two days before the first arms deal between Egypt and Rwanda was signed, a ceasefire was agreed between the Rwanda government and the RPF following diplomatic efforts by the Beligian government.
Ceasefire or not, from now until the genocide began in April 1994 Rwanda would become the third largest importer of weapons in Africa, ranked behind Nigeria and Angola. An estimated US$100 million was spent on arms by this tiny African country. For the next three years, among the military hardware which entered the country, there was a seemingly unstoppable flow of small arms and light weapons.
Boutros-Ghali, when later interviewed about the arms sales, described his role as that of a 'catalyst'. He was a minister of foreign affairs, he said, and it was his job to help to sell his country's weapons production; he would have helped any government wanting arms from Egypt. Egyptian arms were cheap and the Egyptians prided themselves on the speed of delivery. Kabanda made the approach, said Boutros-Ghali, because he would not have known who else in the Egyptian government to contact. About the wisdom of arranging an arms deal while international peace efforts were under way, Boutros-Ghali said that he did not think 'a few thousand guns would have changed the situation'.
We may never know the full facts of the sudden Egyptian change of heart in October 1990 and the reversal of its foreign policy not to sell weapns to Rwanda. The sales would undoubtedly have helped to boost foreign earnings. One important factor must have been Rwandas's sudden change in fortunes for, by the time Kabanda had requested Boutros-Ghali's help, some US$216 million of international funding had been earmarked for Rwanda, some of it from the European Union with sizeable bilateral contributions from France, Germany, Belgium, the EC and the USA. Rwanda's status had changed; the country's economy was now in the hands of the world's most powerful international institutions, the World Bank and the IMF. Rwanda was the subject of a structural adjustment programme (SAP) devised to try to prevent economic chaos; its perilous economy was going to be shored up and in exchange there was going to be fundamental reform - the creation of a sound, efficient financial system which envisaged low inflation.
SAPs are economic reforms involving changes in pricing and trade policies, reductions in the size of government, and the regulation of production in order to integrate countries into the international market economy. Countries are required to make these economic changes in order to achieve their objectives. Yet evidence suggests that part of the money provided was not used productively as intended to prevent Rwanda's economic collapse, nor was it channelled to help Rwanda's famine and war victims. It has since been discovered that sizeable portions of quick disbursing loans were diverted by the regime towards the acquisition of military hardware. And the military purchases of Kalashnikov assault rifles, field artillery - a powerful asset in the mountainous terrain - and mortars were made in addition to the bilateral military aid package provided by France.
From October 1990 the Rwandan army expanded virtually overnight from 5,000 to 28,000 men requiring, inevitably, a sizeable influx of outside money. Rwandan soldiers, who had only ever been equipped with light arms, were now to have a wide range of light arms, heavier guns, grenade launchers, landmines and long-range artillery.
The close relationship between Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the Rwandan regime had begun with his first official visit to Kigali in 1983. Most of the high-level Egyptian-Rwandan diplomatic dialogue went through him. Boutros-Ghali knew Rwanda well. And everyone who knew Rwanda was aware that it was a single-party state based on nepotism and that the only opposition was mainly comprised of refugees in Uganda...[end quoting from 'A People Betrayed' by Melvern]
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