Mass protests in Kigali over General’s arrest

General Karenzi Karake is due to reappear in in London court Thursady

General Karenzi Karake is due to reappear in in London court Thursady

Over eight hundred Rwandans today gathered at the British High commission in Kigali located in Kacyiru, to protest the arrest of General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake.

The British envoy to Rwanda, Ambassador William Gelling was present at the embassy buildings when the protest surrounded the High Commission entrance but was not harmed.

Protestors chanted “Free the general,” with some carrying photographs of the country’s spy chief and carried placards with inscriptions like “demeaning Africans is not acceptable, free Gen. Karenzi Karake”

Karake who is head of the Rwandan intelligence services was arrested in London on June 20, 2015, on a European arrest warrant following a request issued by Spanish judge in 2008.

The Human Rights Watch said early today they are monitoring the case of Karake. He is wanted by the Spanish authorities for ordering mass killings in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. He was indicted in 2008 along with other 39 current and former high ranking military of officials in the Rwandan military.

Andrew Mitchell, UK’s former Secretary of State for International Development and Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s foreign minister are among the critics of the arrest.

Mushikiwabo said that the arrest was “an outrage” adding: “Western solidarity in demeaning Africans is unacceptable”, while the arrest was a “reprehensible abuse” of the law.

However, the British High Commission to Rwanda, Ambassador William Gelling said the arrest was a “legal obligation” and stressed the desire for the UK and Rwanda to maintain close relations.

By press time, protests spontaneously sprung up around Kigali and reports indicate that Kigali government is holding several high profile meetings to secure the general’s release.

At the protests, Ambassador Gelling said that he understood the protestors “frustrations” but that the arrest “was on legal obligations based on the Spanish indictments”, and that London remained “a close partner and maintains a good relationship with Rwanda

Rwanda highly depends on UK’s funding in its budget support programs especially in education, with at least more than £9million annually.

Opposition groups in the diaspora and international human rights organisations have hailed the arrest that has been “long overdue”.