THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Bush urges action to stop African bloodshed

At genocide site, president faults slow response

Email|Print| Text size + By Jennifer Loven
Associated Press / February 20, 2008

KIGALI, Rwanda - On ground haunted by one of the worst atrocities of modern times, President Bush pleaded with the global community yesterday for decisive action to stop grisly ethnic violence now plaguing other African nations such as Kenya and Sudan.

"There is evil in the world and evil must be confronted," said Bush, shaken by his visit to a museum that tells the story of Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days by extremist Hutu militias.

Bush, who once wrote "not on my watch" in the margin of a report on the Rwanda massacre, has responded to the atrocities that have raged in Sudan's western Darfur region by imposing sanctions, applying diplomatic pressure, and training and transporting other nations' soldiers for peacekeeping.

But he decided not to send US troops into Sudan and it took three years after the crisis began in 2003 to announce sanctions against a few of people, prompting criticism that his actions don't match his impassioned rhetoric on the topic.

That hasn't stopped Bush from expressing frustration at what he sees as sluggish efforts by the United Nations and other countries in Darfur. Bush has called the situation genocide, though others have not. Hoping that his campaign for increased involvement by others would gain more weight from the scene of another genocide, the president used strong language to blast the international effort.

"If you're a problem solver, you put yourself at the mercy of the decisions of others, in this case, the United Nations," Bush said. "It is - seems very bureaucratic to me, particularly with people suffering."

At least 200,000 have been killed in the five-year campaign by militias supported by Sudan's Arab-dominated government against black African communities in Darfur for suspected rebel support. Four cease-fires have gone unheeded. And only about 9,000 of an expected 26,000-troop peacekeeping force, a joint effort by the United Nations and the African Union, have been deployed. The Sudanese government has still not agreed to non-African troops and the UN has not persuaded governments to supply helicopters.

Bush hoped to spur the world into action with Rwanda's history, and also its positive example. This tiny Central African nation of lush rolling hills and rugged highlands - about the size of Maryland - was the first to commit peacekeepers to Darfur, and still has the largest contingent there.

"My message to other nations is: 'Join with the president and help us get this problem solved once and for all,' " Bush said after meetings with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The US has spent $600 million on peacekeeping operations in Darfur, including to train and equip peacekeepers from several nations, transport troops and equipment back and forth and operate base camps, according to the White House. Yesterday, Bush announced that $100 million would be made available for additional training and equipment.

Bush said Rwanda's history also should serve as a grim warning as the world now watches Kenya disintegrate, with long-simmering ethnic hatreds playing a role in bloodshed that is shockingly brutal for a country once considered among Africa's most stable.

Foreign and local observers say the December presidential elections that returned Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki to power were rigged. It unleashed weeks of fighting, much of it pitting other ethnic groups against Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe that is resented for dominating politics and business.

"I'm not suggesting that . . . anything close to what happened here is going to happen in Kenya," Bush said. "But I am suggesting there's some warning signs that the international community needs to pay attention to, and we're paying attention to it."

The president and his wife, Laura, spent about 40 minutes at the Kigali Memorial Centre, where a trellis-covered hilltop houses mass graves for about 250,000 victims of Rwanda's nightmare. Bush appeared sickened by what he saw outside and inside, including stark stories of child victims - their innocent lives and brutal deaths.

"It can't help but shake your emotions to their very foundation," Bush said. By Kagame's side later, he said: "I just can't imagine what it would have been like to be a citizen who lived in such horrors, and then had to, you know, gather themselves up and try to live a hopeful life." At the dedication of a new $80 million US embassy here, Bush used the term "holocaust museum" to refer to where he had been.

Bush hoped to spur action with Rwanda's history, and its positive example. It was the first nation to send peacekeepers to Darfur.

BUILDING PRESSURE

more stories like this

  • Email
  • Email
  • Print
  • Print
  • Single page
  • Single page
  • Reprints
  • Reprints
  • Share
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Comment
 
  • Share on DiggShare on Digg
  • Tag with Del.icio.us Save this article
  • powered by Del.icio.us
Your Name Your e-mail address (for return address purposes) E-mail address of recipients (separate multiple addresses with commas) Name and both e-mail fields are required.
Message (optional)
Disclaimer: Boston.com does not share this information or keep it permanently, as it is for the sole purpose of sending this one time e-mail.