- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2008

KIGALI, RWANDA — President Bush today said that a visit to a Rwandan genocide memorial shook him to his very foundation and called on the international community to act decisively in Kenya to prevent anything similar from happening. Mr. Bush also said at a press conference here that the resignation of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro should be the beginning of [a] democratic transition in Cuba. Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush visited a museum here that documents the tribe-on-tribe slaughter of about one million Rwandans during three months in 2004, and spoke afterwards of the horrors that took place here.

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    This is a moving place that can’t help but shake your emotions to your very foundation, Mr. Bush said outside to reporters. You cant help but walk in there and recognize that evil does exist, and in this case in such brutal form, that babies had their skulls smashed, Mr. Bush said later at a press conference with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the rebel forces that ended the genocide. The question is what does the world do to prevent these kinds of incidences, Mr. Bush said.
  • Were obviously trying to prevent such a crisis from happening in Kenya, Mr. Bush. More than 1,000 people in Kenya have been killed in tribal fighting since a contested election in late December. Im not suggesting that anything close to what happened here is going to happen in Kenya, Mr. Bush said. But I am suggesting that there are some warning signs that the international community needs to pay attention to. The president said that you dont want to send people in who are observers. You have to send in people who can deal with the situation. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Kenya yesterday to meet with the leaders of the warring factions, who are in talks being mediated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Mr. Bush repeated his stance that the U.S. fully supports Mr. Annans mediation. But the president also criticized the United Nations for their slowness to send in sufficient peacekeepers to stop the current genocide in Darfur, where about 400,000 people have been killed over the last several years. Asked about Castro, Mr. Bush said that this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections. And I mean free and I mean fair, not these staged elections that the Castro brothers tried to foist off as being true democracy, Mr. Bush said. Earlier in the day, Mr. Bush said that recognizing the fledgling Republic of Kosovo is the right thing to do because it will bring peace. He also said his government had been in close contact with the Russians about their decision to support Kosovos separation from Serbia, a close Russian ally. We have been working very closely with the Russians, Mr. Bush said in Tanzanias capital of Dar es Salaam, before taking off for Rwanda. This wasnt a surprise to Russia. Mr. Bush is spending the day in Rwanda and will fly to Ghana tonight. He returns home from his five-country tour on Thursday night. The president said that the U.S. and European governments who supported Kosovos independence worked on the sequencing of their statements recognizing the majority Albanian country, to make sure that there was a concerted and constant voice supporting this move. The United States supports this move because we believe it will bring peace, Mr. Bush said. And now it’s up to all of us to work together to help the Kosovars realize that peace. At the Rwandan genocide memorial, Mr. and Mrs. Bush laid a wreath to commemorate the dead. He said his hour-long tour of the centers museum was a reminder that evil cannot be tolerated. “We must not let these kind of actions take place,” Mr. Bush said, standing near graves that contain the remains of around 250,000 victims of the genocide. The Rwandan genocide was a quick and bloody massacre inflicted primarily by members of the Hutu tribe on the Tutsi ethnic minority. Somewhere between 800,000 to 1 million people were shot, stabbed and hacked to death with machetes over about three months. At the press conference, Mr. Bush commended Rwandans for their recovery over the last 14 years, and signed an investment treaty that contains protections for U.S. businesses investing in Rwanda. Its an invitation to the investors, Mr. Kagame said. When they come here, their investments will be protected, in good hands.

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