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Cablegate: The French Leave Rwanda

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #1142 3321601
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281601Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3515
INFO RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 1588
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 0786
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1490
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0149
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0686
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0178
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0058

UNCLAS KIGALI 001142

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C AND DS/IP/AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC KAWC PREL FR RW
SUBJECT: THE FRENCH LEAVE RWANDA

REF: A. KIGALI 1125

B. KIGALI 1130
C. PARIS 7549

1. (U) Twenty-five French Embassy and other official
personnel left Kigali on 27 November at 19:00 local time via
a Rwandair Express flight to Entebbe. The atmosphere was
somber in the airport VIP lounge, the French said final
good-byes, took photos and shared chocolate. There was no
press and only a few mid-level Rwandan airport officials
observed the last French diplomat boarding the DHC-8.

2. (U) Shortly after the French convoy left the French
Embassy (16:30 local) for Kigali International Airport, a
well organized group of approximately 250 young men arrived
on the scene to demonstrate. The Rwandans mobilized at the
now closed French cultural center and marched less than a
mile to the French Embassy. (Note. The French Embassy, in
the upscale Kiovou neighborhood, shares a wall with the U.S.
Marine residence. End note.) The demonstration, observed
and recorded by RSO and a few Marines, started at 17:00 and
lasted approximately 30 minutes. Although some protesters
made half hearted attempts to break through the cordon
established by 25 Rwandan National Police (RNP) officers and
climb the Embassy wall, there appeared to be little risk that
the situation would escalate into a true riot. After 20
minutes of yelling and jumping about, a RNP riot control
detachment of 20 officers swept through to disburse the
crowd. While the demonstrators were temporarily energized by
the banging of batons on shields, they steadily withdrew-
some laughing and smiling. There were no reports of arrests
or injuries, in fact, from video reviewed by Emboffs it did
not appear that anyone was even hit by a baton rather; they
were just brusquely nudged away.

3. (SBU) Comment. The Rwandan decision was a shock to the
French Embassy and most French officials, including the
Ambassador, were deeply disappointed and blunt in their
belief that the GOF would not return to Rwanda in the near
future. The demonstration, tailor-made for the press, was
the only "popular" response on the 27th and country team does
not consider it to be indicative of widespread anger by the
Rwandan public that would lead to an increased risk to
remaining French nationals or other foreigners. End comment.
ARIETTI

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