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Germany

In Growing Row, Rwanda Asks German Ambassador to Leave

Germany is recalling its ambassador to Rwanda to Berlin at the request of the government in Kigali. It's the latest escalation of tensions after an aide to President Paul Kagame was arrested in Frankfurt.

Rose Kabuye walks with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1997

Rose Kabuye walks with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1997

A spokesman for Germany's foreign ministry said the German ambassador would "travel back to Berlin for consultations."

Rwandan Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali confirmed the request from Kigali. "We've ask the German ambassador to leave until this matter is resolved," she told Reuters, adding that her country has recalled its own ambassador from Berlin for consultations.

"We have not broken ties with Germany at all," she said. "It's not a permanent move."

The growing row centers around the arrest of Rose Kabuye, director general of state protocol in Rwanda and a senior aide to President Paul Kagame. She was arrested at Frankfurt airport on Sunday by German police, who were acting on an international arrest warrant issued by France in 2006.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame

She is wanted there in connection with the fatal April 1994 attack on the plane of President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death lead to the campaign of genocide that killed 800,000 in the African nation and left it deeply traumatized.

A French anti-terrorism judge had issued the warrants against nine members of Kagame's entourage suspected of having a hand in the attack that killed Habyarimana, an ethnic Hutu.

Damage to relations

Kagame said the arrest would affect his country's relationship with France and Germany. He called the action a "violation of the sovereignty of Rwanda."

"We will see how we can challenge such actions, which in my view are simply a question of being arrogant and people being a law unto themselves," he said after visiting Kabuye in a German prison.

Kagame said he expected Germany to extradite her to France within days. Kabuye's lawyer has said she is willing to go before a French judge.

skulls from victims of Rwandan genocide

The Rwandan genocide killed some 800,000

The Kagame regime has long accused France of being partly to blame for the massacres in Rwanda and complained that Paris and other European capitals were seeking to prosecute the victims rather than the perpetrators.

On Tuesday, around a thousand youths demonstrated in front of the French cultural centre in Kigali, which has been closed since Rwanda broke diplomatic ties with France in November 2006.

In Germany, hundreds of Rwandans protested on Monday against the arrest.

Private visit?

Rwanda's foreign ministry expressed its "shock and dismay" over Kabuye's arrest and denied claims she was on a private visit, in a letter of protest to the German embassy in Kigali seen by the AFP news agency.

It said that Kabuye enjoys diplomatic immunity, was on a "working visit" to Germany and "should be treated with courtesy and dignity by the German authorities as it is required by diplomatic decorum."

President Kagame made a four-day state visit to Germany in April. According to media reports, Kabuye was on that trip but German law prohibits the detention of any members of an official delegation.

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