On Monday March 21, 2016, the United Nations Security Council held a debate on Conflict and Peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The debate was supposed to propose solutions. Instead, it became a circus, when the turn of the Rwandan Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana came.
Ambassador Gasana, who is also a close confident to the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame started by raving about criticisms against the devastating warmongering policies of the Rwanda government and its recent involvement in instability and bloody violence in the neighboring country of Burundi. Burundian Ambassador Alain Aime Nyamitwe had intervened before and pointed to the role played by the Rwandan government by recruiting,
training, arming, and funding Burundian refugees and sending them to fight in Burundi. These actions were documented by UN Experts. Wagging his finger and rambling widely, Rwanda Ambassador threatened the Burundian Ambassador, leaving the audience visibly shocked by his demeanor.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL TURNED INTO CIRCUS BY RWANDAN AMBASSADOR GASANA
But more drama was ahead. The climax was reached when Rwandan Ambassador Gasana turned to US Ambassador Samantha Power, who he simply called "Miss Power", in a blatant breach of diplomatic protocols.
Rwandan Ambassador Gasana was reacting to earlier comments made by US Ambassador Power, both praising Rwanda for its remarkable progress since the 1994 civil war and criticizing General Paul Kagame for oppressing his people. Ambassador Power said that “the continued absence of political space — the inability of individuals and journalists to discuss political affairs or report on issues of public concern — poses a serious risk to Rwanda’s future stability.”
US Ambassador Samantha Power had broadly touched on the challenge in the Great Lakes Region of Africa where “democratic processes are being deliberately undermined” in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda.
In those countries, according to Ambassador Power, there is an alarming “accelerating trend" of closing media outlets, arresting critics and intimidating civil-society groups, while “leaders make increasingly blatant power grabs to remain in office.” Rwanda'General Kagame and Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza have defied or changed the constitutions of their countries to seek third terms. In Uganda, a tyrannic Yoweri Museveni has grabbed power for the last 30 years and has just added more years to his reign and Joseph Kabila of DRC is seeking to follow in the footsteps of his neighbors. All have defied US Government's repeated calls for democratic transition (see here).
Offering an advice, Ambassador Power remarked that “Rwanda can achieve lasting peace and prosperity through a government centered on the principle of democratic accountability, not centered on any one single individual.”
The reaction by Rwandan Ambassador, who also, while based in New York, is Rwandan Minister of State for Cooperation was full of verbal violence, finger wagging, disdain, and utter arrogance. Most audience appeared beyond shock as Ambassador Gasana's rambling heaped insults and sarcasms on US Ambassador Samantha Power. He started by wagging a finger to the microphone and ordering Ambassador Samantha Power to watch him or his web cast. He then uttered that Ambassador Power should not “confuse her name with her assignment,” before adding “Ms Power doesn't have power over Rwanda.”
He went on praising the Rwandan dictator General Paul, calling him “this very precious man” and “our hero.” He then turned to other UN Security Council members and, wagging a finger towards them, repeated what he had told Burundian Ambassador Nyamitwe: “Don't ever dare, ever, to treat him that way.”
It was clear that after a long rambling and ranting wildly by the Rwandan Ambassador and Minister Gasana, the Angolan Ambassador who led the UN Security Council was happy to finally move to the next speaker.
WHY RWANDAN AMBASSADOR GASANA DARED TO DERIDE US AMBASSADOR POWER?
Following the UN Security Council debate, a question remains: why did Rwandan Ambassador Gasana ranted against US Ambassador Samantha Power? The US are the most powerful country in the World and the US Government has long backed General Paul Kagame. US Ambassador Samantha Power has long been an advocate for Rwanda within the US Government. President Clinton, a personal advisor to General Paul Kagame, along with Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has been instrumental in helping the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the Rwandan ruling junta to which Ambassador Gasana belongs, to seize power. So why attacking her with such zeal, disdain and arrogance? Is it because the United States, as some US Presidential candidates like Donald Trump have been saying, has lost its power and prominence and become like an old lion challenged by a mouse?
The answer may be not clear, but it appears related to timing. The US are going through presidential elections. Whoever wins, Ambassador Power, who supported President Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton in 2008 elections, may no longer play a prominent role in the US Government. President Obama's administration, through Ambassador Power, has been at the forefront of opposing third terms by dictators in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. By attacking her, Rwandan Government may be seeking to preempt any continuation of the US policy post 2016 US presidential elections.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Power has followed the biblical proverb: "Honoring a fool is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot.". She chose to ignore the raving Rwandan Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana, which is the right thing to do, while devising an appropriate action.