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Death of Rwandan and Burundian Presidents in Plane Crash Outside Kigali

Card Number 5528

Bushnell, Prudence
Wednesday April 6, 1994
Death of Rwandan and Burundian Presidents in Plane Crash Outside Kigali
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs, Memorandum from Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell through Under Secretary for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff to The
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Deputy Assistant Secretary Prudence Bushnell, acting head of the State Department's Africa bureau as Assistant Secretary George Moose was returning from Africa, wrote to Secretary of State Warren Christopher to advise him of the plane crash and the deaths of the presidents, which occurred in the afternoon Washington-time of April 6th. Bushnell reports ominous signs: "the Rwandan military prevented the UN from inspecting the site" and "reportedly disarmed the UN (Belgian) peacekeepers stationed at the airport." She informed Tarnoff and Christopher that "the military intended to take power temporarily" and that there was "an increase in sporadic gunfire and grenade explosions" in Kigali. Finally, Bushnell warned "widespread violence could break out in either of both countries, particularly if it is confirmed that the plane was shot down." As part of the U.S. response, Bushnell noted that the UN Special representative had arranged a meeting between "the military and Western diplomats at the U.S. Ambassador's residence" for the next morning. That meeting never occurred; UN forces, already burdened responding to pleas for help, could not provide an escort for the Special Representative.