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Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK


World: Africa

Rwanda slaughter 'could have been prevented'

The violence left hundreds of orphan, injured children

The United States, Belgium, France and the UN Security Council all had prior warning about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and could have prevented it, says a new report published by the US-based Human Rights Watch group,

"The Americans were interested in saving money, the Belgians were interested in saving face, and the French were interested in saving their ally, the genocidal government," said Alison Des Forges, a scholar on Rwanda and author of the report.


[ image: The refugee scene in 1994]
The refugee scene in 1994
UN officials are accused of consistently refusing troop requests by the commanding officer of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda.

Lt Gen Romeo Dallaire of Canada warned of 1994's systematic killing, but support forces were never sent.

Belgium pulled its troops out following the deaths of 10 Belgian peacekeepers on the first day of the genocide. Belgium subsequently supported the US position against increasing the peacekeepers' mandate.

France, a close ally of the Hutu government in Rwanda, has been accused of sending them military support both before and during the genocide.

"Reacted timidly and tardily"

Entitled "Leave none to tell the story," the 771-page report criticises the US, Belgium, France and the UN Security Council because they "failed to act effectively".

"Even worse, foreign leaders reacted timidly and tardily once the killing began," says the report.

Last week, the UN Security Council said it supported an independent inquiry into UN activity, and the actions of Security Council permanent members, before and during the genocide between April 6 and July 4, 1994.

More than half a million of the country's minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in that time.

The new report, published by the US-based Human Rights Watch group came out a week before the fifth anniversary of the 90 days of slaughter in Rwanda.

Elections praised

As Rwanda's elections continued on Wednesday, President Pasteur Bizimungu said he was happy with the conduct of the polls so far.


[ image: Voting is going on for
Voting is going on for "sector level" elections
Addressing voters in Kigali prefecture he said: "This is to foster development nationwide because the population has been given the right to shape their own destiny, by choosing their own leaders."

Bizimungu said that after the current "sector level" elections, the next move was to conduct elections at higher units of Rwanda's administrative structures. He did not say this would take place.



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