The Rwandan media fraternity has, in an unprecedented move, resolved to
sue a local newspaper over publishing "highly slanderous and unfounded
articles defaming" President Paul Kagame and other national leaders,
and equating the President and the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) to
Adolph Hitler and Nazis, respectively, writes James Munyaneza in the New Times.

In a crisis consultative meeting between members of the Rwanda Media Ethics Commission (RMEC), media house owners and practitioners, journalists also asked the High Council of the Press (HCP) to withdraw its press card from the vernacular newspaper’s owner-cum-reporter Bonaventure Bizumuremyi and to request the line ministry to ban the paper for a year.

‘(Journalists) have condemned and disassociated themselves from articles published in Umuco newspaper edition number 45,’ a statement signed by the commission president, Louis Kamanzi (Radio Flash), states.

In a highly charged meeting held at the Press House in Remera, journalists condemned Umuco’s "unprofessional levels" accusing it of dragging the President’s credibility and that of the RDF in mud by likening them to Hitler and the Nazis, known internationally for the genocide of six million Jews.

They also said that by equating Kagame to Germany’s Hitler, the author and the publication were denying the 1994 Genocide, which was stopped by then rebels of the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA ) under Kagame’s leadership.

The commission singled out four articles published in Umuco’s March 12-27, 2008 edition citing laws that were violated by the publication.

The most "vilifying" article cited was in the edition’s headline piece in which the writer, Jason Mukasa, based on recent indictments issued by a Spanish judge against forty RDF officers, claimed that Kagame was trapped between life and death, and offered options to the Head of State, one of them being "to commit" suicide.

The other options the writer gave Kagame "to flee the country, cling to power until death, or to present himself before the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

The article, according to analysts, is full of abusive, demeaning and insulting language, largely buried inside the strong Kinyarwanda language used in the two-page opinion piece in the bi-monthly paper.

Click here to read the full report, posted on the New Times website.