Country Described by Rick Warren as “Model for Africa” Accused of Backing Rebels in DR Congo

From the Christian Post, March 2012:

Rick Warren Guiding Rwanda’s New Leaders, Calls Nation His ‘Other Home’

At a prayer breakfast at Kigali Serena Hotel on Sunday, March 18, Warren spoke to Rwanda’s spiritual leaders along with several government officials, including Prime Minister Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi.

…”Rwanda is now a model for Africa and in the next 10 years, it will be a model for the rest of the world. This country is also blessed with an uncommon leader who is full of integrity,” the evangelical pastor said.

…Warren is also a member of President Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council.

From Reuters, 19 June 2012:

The U.N. panel of experts on Congo is due to publish an interim report soon that international diplomats say appears to have information backing up reports of rebels receiving support from Rwanda.

[Congolese government spokesman Lambert] Mende told Reuters on Monday that Rwanda and its allies on the Security Council, including Washington, were trying to block the report.

“I think (the report) confirms everything that has been said. I don’t think the Rwandans are at all happy that it should be officially endorsed by the U.N,” he said. Washington was not immediately available for comment.

The report’s material on Rwanda, which appeared as an addendum to the main report (reference number S/2012/348), was finally published at the end of June.

Just over a week ago, it was reported that the US intended to “cut military aid to Rwanda for this year because of evidence by U.N. experts that Kigali was supporting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, while the Netherlands and and the UK have delayed making aid payments. Further, the Guardian  reported that:

Stephen Rapp, who leads the US Office of Global Criminal Justice, told the Guardian the Rwandan leadership may be open to charges of “aiding and abetting” crimes against humanity in a neighbouring country – actions similar to those for which the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was jailed for 50 years by an international court in May.

However, the ICC has since clarified that “investigations into the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were not focused on Rwanda nor its leadership, but on the crimes against humanity allegedly committed by forces loyal to renegade General Bosco Ntaganda.”

Rwanda has responded with a “rebuttal”, claiming that Rwandan army uniforms worn by fighters in Congo could have been purchased from foreign marketplaces, but Kagame is coming under critical media scrutiny.

Of course, Rick Warren wasn’t to know about events in Congo, but his lack of any critical distance from Kagame (see, for example, this gushing 2009 profile he wrote for Time) was always likely to lead to difficulties. It should be recalled that Warren’s words of praise in March followed reports in May 2011 that Rwandan exiles in London had been warned by police of assassination threats, and the mysterious attempted murder of a Rwandan former general in Johannesburg in 2010.

Another international advisor to Kagame is Tony Blair, who attended a previous Warren prayer meeting at the Kigali Serena in 2009 (Warren has also dispensed his “PEACE medal” awards to Blair and Kagame). Back in December 2010, Blair told the Guardian that:

“I’m a believer in and a supporter of Paul Kagame. I don’t ignore all those criticisms, having said that. But I do think you’ve got to recognise that Rwanda is an immensely special case because of the genocide. Secondly, you can’t argue with the fact that Rwanda has gone on a remarkable path of development. Every time I visit Kigali and the surrounding areas you can just see the changes being made in the country.”


Kagame is not the only controversial leader to enjoy a relationship with Tony Blair; Nick Cohen recently noted Blair’s links to Nursultan Nazarbayev:

He won’t explain why he’s helping the Kazakh dictator present a better face to the west. Apparently, he has said that he is not personally profiting from appearing in a propaganda video praising the dictatorship’s “progress” and hymning its “extraordinary economic potential”.

So far, there is no connection between Nazarbayev and Warren, despite Nazarbayev’s interest in “religious leaders”.

2 Responses

  1. Before the ’94 genocide, Rwanda was often held up as a shining example for the rest of Africa to follow, especially by evangelical missionaries. Here is a quote from an article about this written after the genocide:

    “If you read Christian mission journals and textbooks from the 1980s, Rwanda is often held up as a model of evangelization in Africa. Nowhere else on the continent was Christianity so well received. Church growth was unprecedented. Seminarians in the United States studied Rwanda, asking how they might use similar strategies elsewhere to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those living in darkness.”
    Source: Sojourners, Jan. 2009
    authors: Emmanuel M. Katongole and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

  2. I am reminded a little of Pat Robertson’s support for Guatemalan leader José Efraín Ríos Montt.

    It’s interesting that God didn’t give either Robertson or Warren a heads up, despite His talking to them on a regular basis.

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