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Uganda genocide cartoon sparks anger in Rwanda

A man reads newspaper headlines at a Kampala news-stand © AFP/File / Isaac Kasamani

Kampala, Uganda, Dec 21 – A state-owned Ugandan newspaper on Wednesday apologised and retracted a cartoon about the Rwandan genocide which sparked a furore in the neighbouring country.

Ugandan daily New Vision published a cartoon Tuesday showing Rwandan President Paul Kagame sitting inside a confessional, while Pope Francis kneels outside asking forgiveness for the 1994 genocide.

The pontiff also asks for forgiveness for an assassination bid against former Rwandan army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa — who blames Kagame for several attempts on his life in South Africa where he lives in exile.

The cartoon appeared to mock Kagame who on Friday repeated his demand that the pope apologise for the actions of Catholics implicated in the genocide which killed around 800,000.

“Today’s cartoon in @NewVisionWire is more than just in bad taste. Poking fun at genocide is not funny. It is denial. Unacceptable,” tweeted Yolande Makolo, communications director in the Rwandan presidency.

A series of furious tweets from Rwandans compared the newspaper to controversial French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

A source at New Vision said its managing director had personally phoned Kagame to apologise for the cartoon.

Meanwhile editor-in-chief, Barbara Kaija said the offending image had been taken down from the newspaper’s website.

Since the genocide, whose victims were mostly from the Tutsi minority, the Catholic Church has been accused of being close to the Hutu extremist regime in power in 1994 and some of its priests and other clergy were implicated in the massacres.

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A number of churches became scenes of mass killings as the Hutu militiamen found people seeking refuge there, sometimes turned over by the priests, with no way out.

Rwanda’s Catholic Church apologised in November on behalf of all Christians involved in the genocide.

However Kagame’s government has demanded the pope himself apologise, as he did to Ireland over sexual abuse by priests.

While former rebel Kagame is admired by many for uniting the country after the genocide, he is also seen as running Rwanda with an iron fist.

Several of his critics have been assassinated or come under attack in African nations where they live in exile, and a botched attack on Nyamwasa in 2014 sparked a diplomatic row between Pretoria and Kigali.


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