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AP Photo/Denyse Uwera
Rwandan demonstrators march to the British High Commission in Kigali to protest the arrest of Rwandan general Emmanuel Karenzi Karake.

The Rwandan general arrested in London is out on bail but has to report to local police twice a day

By Tinashe Mushakavanhu

The Rwandan general, Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, arrested on Saturday in the UK over alleged war crimes  was granted conditional bail on Thursday, pending a full hearing for his extradition to Spain.

The bail conditions include a £1 million surety given by Rwandan diplomats. But importantly, Karake, who is currently holed up at his country’s embassy in London, cannot leave the UK. In fact, he has to report at a local police station twice a day.

The arrest of Karake was instigated by the Spanish government, which in 2008 issued a European arrest warrant for him to face trial, alongside 39 other Rwandan officials. They are accused of a series of war crimes in the period from October 1990 to July 2002–a time when Rwanda was ripped apart by genocidal violence, which spread across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Karake has vowed to fight extradition. A full extradition hearing would be held on October 29 and 30. Protests have been held in Kigali, London and Madrid by Rwandans in solidarity with their countryman for what they perceive to be an injustice. Karake’s legal campaign is being led by Cherie Booth QC, the wife of former British prime minister, Tony Blair, who himself is an adviser to Kagame’s government.

President Paul Kagame, did not hide his disappointment at the arrest of one of his top lieutenants. He attacked Britain for pretending to help Africa while insulting its dignity. The general, he said, was a “freedom fighter who has brought us where we are as a people.”

“They must have mistaken him for an illegal immigrant. The way they treat illegal immigrants is the way they treat all of us. Black people have become targets for shooting practice. We cannot accept that people treat us this way just because they can.”

In a series of tweets, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo, called out the West for their hypocrisy and spelled out the sentiments of the Rwandan government:

For some,Rwanda remains a country of contradictions. The 1994 genocide, for which the general is accused of being one of the masterminds, is the episode many still associate with the country. And yet, the east African country has made significant strides in turning itself around. It is now lauded as an example of Africa’s potential, but the specters of its past still haunt it.

The arrest of Karake comes after an ill-fated attempt by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, arrested in South Africa. Bashir denies allegations that he engineered mass atrocities in Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region. South Africa has now threatened to leave ICC after being accused of playing a part in Bashir’s dramatic escape. These attempted arrests or arrests (as in this case) have put the West in collision with African states who feel their sovereignty is being threatened. Both sides are trading rhetorical barbs.