In a heated interview with Al Jazeera English’s current affairs show UpFront, Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo denied a wide range of allegations including human rights abuses, suppression of press freedoms, and extrajudicial killings brought forth against Rwanda by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and countries Rwanda is allied with.
When it came to Rwanda’s involvement in the violent political crisis in neighbouring Burundi, Mushikiwabo insisted her country’s only association was in taking care of Burundan refugees.
She commented on the crisis, saying, “When people make wrong choices then they have to live with the consequences.”
Mushikiwabo, however, denied the UN Panel of Experts’ report from earlier this year that accuses Rwanda of recruiting and training Burundian refugees in Rwanda with the goal of ousting Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.
“If I wanted to overthrow I would use my own army; I would not pick up children in a refugee camp,” she said.
“Rwanda has better and more effective ways of causing trouble if that is what the Rwandan government wanted.”
Discussing President Kagame’s recent comments that no one in the media, the UN, or human rights organisations has the moral right to criticise him or Rwanda at all, Mushikiwabo said, “What the president is saying is what he believes. President Kagame is a very accountable man, and everything he’s done for Rwanda is out in the open.”
Last December, President Kagame (who came into power in 2000) supported a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for a third seven-year term and seek two additional five-year terms, potentially staying in office until 2034.
When asked if she supported it, Mushikiwabo said, “Absolutely.”
“President Kagame has responded to what the people of Rwanda wanted, and there is nothing wrong with that,” she contended.
“I don’t see what’s wrong with staying in office. I think what we need to be worried about is what people do while in office.”
Watch and embed the 3-minute clip of Mushikiwabo talking about Rwanda’s relationship with Burundi at