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Rwanda: Opposition Leader Deo Mushayidi To Stay Behind Bars

Deogratias Mushayidi, Political Opponent

Deogratias Mushayidi, Political Opponent

Kigali: Controversial politician Deogratias Mushayidi has now been moved to the maximum security prison ‘1930’ after court backed the prosecution position that bail could mean fleeing the country, RNA reports.

Judge Yvette Uwantege, of the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court ruled in a much-expected decision that Mr. Mushayidi should stay behind bars for the next 30 days until proceeding for the case start. He has been held at the Kicukiro police station as the state built the charge-sheet.

State prosecutor Richard Muhumuza had argued on Thursday during the preliminary appearance that bail for Mushayidi would be tantamount to giving him free space to flee the country like he has done before. The accused could also temper with possible evidence, according to prosecution.

Despite pleas from defense counsel Protais Mutembe – who has defended some of the country’s top criminals, that Mr. Mushayidi had the constitutional right to bail, the lady judge ruled that does not apply to the accused. Mr. Mutembe said he would appeal the decision.

Judge Uwantege said the charges are serious. She cited Mushayidi’s links to a terrorist group after he signed an agreement with the FDLR in 2007. Another ground the Judge cited was that Mushayidi has been undermining state security by propagating harmful information.

Mr. Mushayidi has published widely alleging that the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels – specifically its head President Paul Kagame assassinated ex-leader Juvenal Habyarimana. The vocal former journalist-turned politician has also fiercely defended the position that the President’s death prompted the Genocide – which the court says amounts to Genocide negationism.

On the charge of forging documents to which he admitted on Thursday, the Judge said there was no guarantee such acts will not continue when Mr. Mushayidi is out in the public.

On arrival and during the session, Mushayidi looked relaxed and smiled constantly as he listened. After the brief court appearance lasting about 15 minutes on Friday afternoon, Mr. Mushayidi was hooded straight to a waiting police pickup truck headed for the notorious Kigali Central Prison – known here as ‘1930’.

Mr. Mushayidi is charged with six counts including links to the FDLR as terrorist group; Genocide negationism; spreading harmful propaganda to undermine state authority; and using forged documents.

For the defense, the court’s decision was “disappointing”. Defense attorney Mr. Mutembe told reporters that he was immediately going to file an appeal with the same arguments.

“We will present the same grounds as those we put forward during the preliminary appearance,” said Mr. Mutembe, who has a track record of defending top criminals including fugitive ex-intelligence chief Col Patrick Karegeya.

Mr. Mutembe is also attorney to opposition politician Ingabire Victoire of FDU-Inkingi as she battles Police accusations that she is linked to the FDLR among other allegations. She has been summoned several times, as the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) puts together her file.

ARI-RNA

March 19, 2010   No Comments

Arusha Court Upholds Rwandan Musician’s 15-Year Jail Sentence

Simon Bikindi, MusicianSimon Bikindi, Musician

Arusha: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday upheld the 15-year prison sentence handed down on the famous Rwandan singer Simon Bikindi.

On December 2, 2008 Bikindi was found guilty of direct public incitement to commit genocide for a speech he made from a vehicle equipped with loudspeakers in late June 1994 on a road in northwestern Rwanda.

“The appeals chamber dismisses Simon Bikindi?s appeal in its entirety, affirms the conviction for direct and public incitement to commit genocide, (and) affirms the sentence of 15 years imprisonment,” presiding judge Patrick Robinson said.

The panel of five appeals judges also dismissed a prosecution appeal for a minimum sentence of 30 years.

The time Bikindi has already spent in prison since his arrest in July 2001 will be deducted from the 15 years.

The singer, dressed in white, appeared upset by the ruling and wiped away his tears with the back of his hands.

The ruling on Bikindi found that his speech in late June urged the population to kill Tutsis. He was not found guilty for his songs, even though they were at the centre of the trial.

The lower court recognised the inflammatory nature of some of Bikindi’s lyrics but emphasised they were composed before 1994, before the period for which the court has competence.

The court also found that the judges had failed to prove that the singer played a role in the broadcasting of his songs in 1994 on state radio, which used them to urge the nation to exterminate Tutsis.

Based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, the ICTR is tasked with tracking down and trying the masterminds behind the 1994 genocide.

ARI-RNA

March 19, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Deo Mushayidi In Maximum Security Jail

Opposition politician Deogratias Mushayidi will spend the next 30 days in the maximum security jail ‘1930’ as he prepares his defense, court has ruled.

March 19, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Victoire Ingabire Claims Right Of Reply From CNN Christiane Amanpour

Christiane Amanpour, CNN

Christiane Amanpour, CNN

Kigali 17th March 2010
Christiane Amanpour
Chief International Correspondent
CNN International
New York, USA.

Subject: Right of rectification and reply against broadcasts which constitute attacks on my individual rights and my reputation.

Dear Christiane,

In your exclusive with President Paul Kagame aired on 15 March 2010 from 16:00, your guest took advantage to vilify my person and my political party. He accused me of talking about double genocide, denying genocide and the “old language of incitement” and hamelessly pretends to have that on record. It is important to rectify this inaccurate information about my stand on the Rwandan genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Victoire Ingabire - No subject should be taboe in Rwandan politics

Victoire Ingabire - No subject should be taboe in Rwandan politics

I would strongly like to set the record straight regarding the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. My position is and has always been that the genocide took place in Rwanda and all criminals should be brought to book.
The point President Kagame and his propaganda machinery do not talk about is that I insist that all those, – involved in the genocide and in other systematic, widespread and flagrant violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda, – whichever side they are from should be prosecuted.
This is the spirit of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 955
Establishing the International Tribunal for Rwanda (with Annexed Statute), S.C. res. 955, 49 U.N. SCOR at _, U.N. Doc. S/RES/955 (1994).

The interview and broadcasts will be used for electoral campaign benefits and that was not obviously the aim of the interview.
I draw your attention to the timing of the CNN exclusive with President Paul Kagame only a few months before a controversial presidential election in Rwanda while his government has totally sealed off the political space.
In fact my political party UDF INKINGI has been denied for the second time the right to convene on the allegations that the governmental police is still tailoring serious criminal charges against my person. The Green Democratic Party of Rwanda’s applications to convene have been rejected.
Today, the regime managed to split the Party Social Imberakuri after relentless harassments and interferences giving free press to its supporters and demonising the party founder.
It’s hard to believe that any of your guests exploits tragic issues for political purposes. One of the FDU INKINGI policy principles is not to entertain any discrimination or injustice among the living and the
dead.

I shall be most grateful if you could give me a chance for rectification and reply to those libels aired on CNN.

Sincerely,
Victoire UMUHOZA INGABIRE
Chairperson
FDU INKINGI
Tel : (+250) 078583600 fdu.inkingi.rwa@gmail.com
http://www.fdu-rwanda.org – http://www.victoire2010.com

March 19, 2010   2 Comments

Not So Much Noise In Rwanda, Says President Kagame

Not so much noise! We need to cool down.

Nairobi: For Kenyan leaders politicking yet elections are three years away thereby wasting essential time that could be for development, President Paul Kagame says Rwanda is way past that stage, RNA reports.

Making a contribution to the discussion on politics and development at the Nation Media Group conference in Nairobi, Mr. Kagame said there was not “much noise” in Rwanda despite the nearing elections set for August “because we have made our noise so much in the past but had to cool down”.

After years of too much politicking that resulted in killings in Rwanda, he said, his country was now down to serious business.

This means we have learnt our lessons from the tragedies of our history and have moved on to ensure the people of Rwanda, leaders, civil society and other members discuss and understand what went wrong,” he said.

Kenya is still recovering from devastating post election violence in 2008, but even with another election three years away, the power-sharing government is locked in bitter exchanges over who has authority.

For the Thursday afternoon session of the major conference, it was also dedicated to how Africa can be moved towards a united continent. President Kagame was joined by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

At the same forum, former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa revealed that during his time in office, he was known to prefer interviews with foreign rather than local journalists.

And Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai warned that lack of visionary leadership was Africa’s bane.

The four were speaking during a unique Eminent Persons Round Table on the opening day of the Pan Africa Media Conference.

President Kagame, who termed his own views as radical compared to other members of the panel, warned African governments to stop dreaming and move to practical implementation of their strategies for development.

Leaders need to move away from drawing board rhetoric and do things that give us results. You can have a vision and remain on paper as a vision,” he said.

It is illogical to always refer to the vision of the continent’s forefathers and talk about integration without implementing plans,” he told an audience that also included Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and The Aga Khan, Nation Media Group’s founder.

Though Rwanda is still putting the pieces together from the 1994 genocide, President Kagame said, is implementing a vision which hopes to transform it into a middle income country by 2020 with a per capita income of $1,000.

Already, President Kagame said, the country had achieved a per capita of $500, up from $190, adding that his government had invested a huge amount of resources in infrastructure, education, health, and agriculture despite its limitations.

On the discussion over how to solidify a country’s development, President Kagame said Rwanda had spent the past 16 years building institutions that would outlive individuals who caused serious problems in its history.

He called on African politicians, the civil society and media to make Pan Africanism and regional integration work.

ARI-RNA

March 19, 2010   1 Comment

Court To Decide If Detained Opposition Leader Deo Mushayidi For Bail Or Jail

Political Opposition Leader Deo Mushayidi at the back of a Police Pick-up

Political Opposition Leader Deo Mushayidi at the back of a Police Pick-up

Kigali: Paraded in court Thursday, detained opposition politician Deogratias Mushayidi rejected being branded a terrorist due to his alleged links to the Rwandan FDLR rebels – saying he would detail why that was not illegal, RNA reports.

Looking tired in his eye-glasses, backed by two lawyers, Mushayidi listened intently as prosecution listed the charges against him. At some point, when the charge of links to the FDLR rebels and terrorism acts were read to him, he laughed in silence.

State prosecutor Richard Muhumuza told a packed Nyarugenge Court of Higher Instance that Mr. Mushayidi has six cases to answer for including links to FDLR as a terrorist group; Genocide negationism; using forged documents and undermining state authority by spreading harmful propaganda.

The preliminary appearance became another center of drama as Mushayidi dismissed all the five charges, admitting only that of using forged documents, but also explaining why he did so. Though he had lawyers by his side, he was required to respond to the charges personally.

According to him, the Burundian passport he allegedly forged was granted to him officially which he has used since 2006.

On terrorism charges – specifically links to FDLR rebels, Mr. Mushayidi told court that the agreement he signed with the rebels in 2007 did not have any security threats as alleged by prosecution. He said he would defend himself during the proceedings to show the court how having connections to the rebels does not constitute a crime.

Prosecution also claims Mr. Mushayidi has been spreading harmful propaganda which undermines state authority by constantly making baseless accusations through the internet and publishing documents distributed in Rwanda. The state also says he has been distributing membership cards for his new party PDP-Imanzi.

The defendant said this was meant to promote his political party, and that there was no way he would spread his ideas to the people.

However, when it came to deciding whether Mr. Mushayidi should be released on a submitted bail application, court became more heated, as his lawyers came in – detailing the legal grounds which back bail. The two lawyers argued that bail was a constitutional right.

The defense also said the defendant needed to be out of detention to be able to prepare his case, a position which the judge dismissed.

Prosecution pleaded that Mr. Mushayidi was not liable to bail because he has already fled the country before – arguing there is no guarantee he will not do the same thing again. State Prosecutor Muhumuza said the accused should continue to be held for another 30 days.

Court said it will rule on the bail application on Friday at 1400hours (1200GMT).

Immediately Mr. Mushayidi was hooded back onto a waiting police vehicle back to his cell in Kicukiro police station.

It is now 14 days Mr. Mushayidi is spending in detention after having been arrested in Burundi, and handed to Rwandan authorities three days later. The Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga told a press conference that Mushayidi was behind the series of grenade attacks which has rocked the country. This was not mentioned among the charges.

Mr. Ngoga also said Mushayidi was working with fugitive Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and ex-intelligence chief Col Patrick Karegeya to destabilize the country. This was also not mentioned by prosecution.

ARI-RNA

March 19, 2010   No Comments

Uganda Starves Rwandan Refugees To Force Them Return Rwanda

RWANDA-UGANDA: Refugees face hunger as farming ban bites

Navikale, Uganda: – A farming ban imposed on Rwandan refugees in southwestern Uganda is raising concerns for their food security, while proposed cash transfers could boost both food prices and theft, warn aid workers and local officials, who are urging the government to rescind the directive.

“The situation with the Rwandan refugees remains unclear. They were stopped from cultivation so as to encourage them to voluntarily return home but the number of those who left is low,” Festo Wafuta, the senior Ugandan official in the Nakivale camp, told IRIN. “As yet we do not have a clear solution from the government about the Rwandans; right now most of them are relying on food distributed by WFP [UN World Food Programme].”

The Rwandan refugees were last year given until August to voluntarily repatriate but only 5,000 left, while the remaining 16,000 went to live with nationals near the settlements but returned to the camps once the repatriation period ended.

“The food situation only got out of hand late last year when we had riots here at Nakivale; those who rioted were mostly the new refugees who had not cultivated their land; we hope the food distributions will continue until April when [WFP] cash transfers are expected to begin,” Wafuta said.

He said government officials had recommended WFP continue supporting the refugees by distributing full rations to them.

“Without the food distributions, we run the risk of extreme hunger among some of the refugees, increased cases of robbery as well as increased hunting in the nearby national park,” Wafuta said. “If this directive were rescinded, then life for the Rwandan refugees would greatly improve.”

“Not a holiday camp”

Government Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees, Tarsis Kabwegyere, said the ban on cultivation would not be lifted soon, adding that “if the refugees insist, we shall chase them or they can contact UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] so that they are relocated elsewhere.

“This is the government position. UNHCR knows about it and they should arrange with the refugees and take them to another country. This is not a holiday camp. These people were told that the conditions [in Rwanda] were conducive for them to go back home,” Kabwegyere told IRIN by telephone.

According to UNHCR, the refugee status of many Rwandans in Uganda may be lifted by the end of 2011, but only after various conditions have been met.

Cash caution

Stanlake Samkange, WFP country director for Uganda, said plans were under way to start a cash transfer system in April to help Rwandan refugees improve their livelihoods.

However, local officials in Nakivale said with a cash transfer food prices could rise dramatically as vendors will know the refugees have money.

Wafuta said: “This could also trigger an increase in incidents of robbery and house breakages as people look for the money the refugees will have received.

“We are also concerned about the refugees who sell the food they have produced; our efforts to regulate this have not achieved much. This has resulted in some refugees selling all their produce and in cases where the head of the house indulges in alcohol, the result could be hunger for the children and may also contribute to an increase in sexual and gender-based violence.”

“We can’t go back”

Most of the Rwandan refugees are ethnic Hutus. They said they feared returning home because of “hostility”, insecurity and persecution by their neighbours and government officials who consider them to have been involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Glodetta Uwilingiye, 36, mother of five in the Kyaka II settlement, formerly from Byumba region in Rwanda, said: “I can’t go back because there is no just law in Rwanda; my husband died in 2002. Who will guarantee my security if I return home yet my neighbours are suspicious of me?”

Since the farming ban was issued, she said, life had become harder and she was having problems keeping two of her children in school.

“I make about 1,000 [Uganda] shillings [$0.50] whenever I go out to do petty jobs for Ugandans or the Congolese refugees. This is not enough to buy food and pens and books for my children; they have had to stay home recently as I try to make more money,” Uwilingiye said.

David Mugenyi, commandant of the Kyaka II settlement, said Rwandan refugees considered extremely vulnerable, such as widows, single parents, the disabled and child-headed households, were being considered for assistance as the government reviews the non-cultivation directive.

“We are human and we know that some of these refugees are living in difficult conditions, so we assist whenever we can,” he said.

In the capital, Kampala, UNHCR said the government had agreed to revisit the decision barring Rwandan refugees from cultivating the land.

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

N.B.
UNHCR knows what is going on as reported this week  in the article:
Rwandan Refugees To Return, says Rwanda Envoy to Uganda
“The Rwandan envoy to Uganda, told Daily Monitor in Kampala that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has declared that by next year, all Rwandan refugees in Uganda and other countries will be returned home, saying Rwanda is now safe.

March 19, 2010   4 Comments

Rwanda Ruling Party RPF Orchestrated Destabilisation Of Opposition Party PS-Imberakuri

Ousted opposition leader resurfaces on asylum rumours

PS-Imbeakuri new leaders

New party chief Ms. Mukabunani (left) did not even seem to be in control as she was drown up by vocal Mr. Niyitegeka

Kigali: The embattled former leader of PS Imberakuri party has resurfaced a day after he went into hiding as a small number, but vocal and furious party officials voted to oust him on Wednesday. Based on various accounts, RNA also brings you what transpired.

As news spread yesterday morning indicating that renegade senior party colleagues had organised an impromptu congress to vote on the party leadership, Mr. Bernard Ntaganda went into hiding.

The seemingly reluctant delegates, transported from across the country, converged at a building at Nyabugogo and by 1400hours, PS Imberakuri had new leadership. The soft-spoken former Vice President Ms. Christine Mukabunane took over a leader, backed by fire-brand lower level officials Augustin Niyitegeka and VP Pastor Noel Hakizimana.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ntaganda and his remaining loyalists had planned to hold a press conference which did not take place. Mr. Ntaganda abandoned his phone to his assistant, who told RNA and other media that his boss was not available to speak to the media.

By 1600hours, Mr. Ntaganda’s vehicle was still packed at his office in Nyamirambo – in the same spot it had been all day. A guard at the building said he had not seen Mr. Ntaganda leave as the building has just one exit.

A rumour then surfaced suggesting that Mr. Ntaganda had sought asylum in the U.S. Embassy in Kacyiru – an upscale Kigali suburb. In the evening, a source in the coalition of opposition parties – in which PS Imberakuri is member, told RNA that the American embassy had confirmed that Mr. Ntaganda was not in their premises.

“But we are very worried because nobody knows anything about his whereabouts,” the source said. “Even his assistant with the phone says he has no clue.”

In a rare interview with Radio Rwanda Wednesday evening, Mr. Ntaganda’s assistant fired back at the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) for usurping PS Imberakuri by fronting people of its own preference.

He claimed that there are members who were with him at that moment that had refused to accept the new party leadership. We have all the details of how this coup against us was planned by the RPF, he said.

On Thursday morning, RNA was informed that Mr. Ntaganda would hold a press conference to respond to the events of Wednesday – which resulted into him losing the party that renegade members accuse him of managing like personal property. If he indeed appears at the event, it will be his time to brand renegade colleagues as stooges.

However, the new team said Mr. Ntaganda will remain a member of PS Imberakuri.

Viewers of state TV were also treated to more drama during the evening Kinyarwanda news, and subsequent French and English bulletins. Indifferent from the new party leaders who seemed to send the impression that the ousting of Mr. Ntaganda was long over-due, the delegates – including mainly youths, looked like they were not sure why they were there.

TV images showed some hiding their faces from the cameras – preferring not to be filmed. Though with part flags in-hand, some members could be seen not even chanting along with others. With delegates inside the building seated on plastic chairs, some stayed out looking like they were not bothered with events.

When it came to discussing the only issue on agenda – the leadership of Mr. Ntaganda, the vocal Mr. Niyitegeka Augustin and Pastor Noel Hakizimana were the ones taking most of the time to speak despite having the new lady president at the front.

All through the function lasting about an hour during lunchtime, Ms. Mukabonane was regularly interjected by the two men. When it came to speaking to journalists outside the building, the two men spoke with vigour as she stood to their side.

The two hard-talking men also laboured to convince journalists that the decision to call for a party congress was not from the disgruntled officials but members who asked the Vice President Ms. Mukabonane to organize it. Defending their action, the new team also told journalists about 900 members had attended the congress.

Describing themselves as interim, the new PS Imberakuri hierarchy says as per the party constitution, a delegates’ congress will be held within 60days to vote on the permanent structures.

ARI-RNA

March 19, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda Will Host Cecafa’s Club Championships In May

Rwanda’s Atraco won last year’s title after edging out the hosts El Merreikh of Sudan.

THE Confederation of East and Central African Football (Cecafa) has confirmed that this year’s Kagame Club Championship will be held in Kigali from May 15-29.

The Cecafa secretary general Nicholas Musonye confirmed the dates and also revealed that the regional football body has even managed to convince Africa’s football governing body, CAF, to shift the dates for one of Amavubi’s CHAN qualifiers on May 23.

“One of Rwanda’s CHAN qualifiers falls in this period but it will not be a problem because the dates have been revised. The first leg is now scheduled for May 1 with the return leg set for June 6,” said Musonye.

Rwanda will be represented by league champions APR and defending champions Atraco who won the title after dislodging Sudan’s El Merreikh 1-0 in the final.

Kenya will be represented by Sofapaka and Tanzania by Simba FC, among the clubs expected to take part in this year’s competition.

Goal.com

March 19, 2010   No Comments

Anglican Bishop Rucyahana of Shyira Retires

Bishop John Rucyahana

Bishop John Rucyahana

Shyira – Bishop, John Rucyahana, who has been at the helm of Shyira Anglican Church Diocese for the last 13 years, has quit after reaching the retirement age.

Rucyahana’s retirement request was approved by the Diocesan High Council during its recent meeting.

He will be replaced by Rev. Dr. Laurent Mbanda, whose consecration is slated for later this month.
When contacted, Rucyahana, 65, confirmed the development, saying his retirement was in conformity with the church guidelines.

I still have energy to serve my church, but institutionary every bishop who clocks 65 years should retire,” he said, adding that he would still be available to serve his church or the country whenever needed.

I cannot change the law because I feel stronger. What is important is not finishing what you started but what foundation you laid for others… I have played my role successfully.

He spoke of his successor Rev. Dr. Mbanda as a trust worthy person with vast experience and capable of continuing from where he stopped.

Mbanda was the vice president of Compassion International.

He [Mbanda] is an experienced man with integrity and momentum to move the diocese ahead,” Rucyahana said.

New Times.

March 19, 2010   No Comments