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Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Rwanda warms to UN chief
Mr and Mrs Annan
The Gisozi memorial for 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide
By Helen Vesperini in Kigali

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has wrapped up his visit to Rwanda with a trip to a genocide memorial in the capital, Kigali.


President Kagame can count on the United Nations, and he can count on me

Kofi Annan
The Gisozi memorial is home to the remains of 250,000 genocide victims and is less horrific than some of the country's other genocide sites as you can see only coffins in vaults and neatly stacked piles of bones .

Kofi Annan, accompanied by his wife Nane, made his way through the red dust that blankets Kigali at this time of year, to listen to a speech by the town's mayor Theoneste Mutsindashyaka.

But the tone of the mayor's speech was surprisingly conciliatory in sharp contrast to when the United Nations Security Council delegation visited the site just four months ago.

Conciliation

On that occasion Mr Mutsindashyaka lashed out at the international community for failing Rwanda in 1994.

The UN is widely criticised for failing to prevent or contain the slaughter when about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred in a four-month campaign by Hutu extremists allied to the Rwandan army.

However, this time Mr Mutsindashyaka said the UN had taken steps to help Rwanda recover from the genocide, and he cited the example of the Arusha tribunal.

But he said he thought the UN could do more, and he gave the example of giving retroviral drugs to women survivors who have Aids as a result of being raped during the genocide.

When the secretary-general saw he was not going to come under attack as he did three years ago, he relaxed visibly and asked questions on being shown round the site.

He made a very short sober speech in which he said the international community had to help Rwanda rebuild the country and work towards national reconciliation.

"President Kagame can count on the United Nations, and he can count on me," he said.

Rebels

Earlier during one-on-one talks, both Mr Annan and Rwandan President Paul Kagame appeared relaxed after discussions on the Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Kagame was surprisingly upbeat about the announcement by the Kinshasa government that it has rounded up 3,000 Rwandan rebels who had been fighting alongside its forces.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda
President Kagame: Discussed DR Congo with Annan
"If it's true it's a step in the right direction," he said.

Mr Annan emphasised that United Nations observers will be meeting the rebels and that the UN will be active in the screening process.

Mr Annan also visiting a rehabilitation camp for captured Interahamwe soldiers in northern Rwanda.

The men in the camp were captured whilst attacking Rwanda from Congo.

They provide a concrete illustration of Rwanda's reasons for being preoccupied with border security.

See also:

03 Sep 01 | Africa
Annan meeting rebels in Kisangani
02 Sep 01 | Africa
Annan preaches peace in DR Congo
03 Aug 01 | Africa
Rwanda 'crushes' Hutu rebels
05 Sep 01 | Europe
Rwanda nuns guilty of genocide
17 Jul 00 | Africa
Rwanda counts its dead
22 Jan 00 | Africa
Rwanda updates genocide list
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