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Rwanda: FDLR suspects denied bail “to prevent return to Congo”

Lt. Colonels Tharcise Nditurende (L) and Noel Habiyambere outside Gasabo court on 29 April 2010Lt. Colonels Tharcise Nditurende (L) and Noel Habiyambere (R) outside Gasabo court on 29 April 2010

Kigali: The two ex-FDLR rebel officers whom the state alleges where collaborating with opposition politicians Victoire Ingabire and Paul Rusesabagina will stay in jail up to when the case starts, court ruled Friday.

Judge Mbishibishi of the Gasabo Intermediate Court concurred with prosecution that Lt. Col Noël Habiyaremye and Lt. Col Tharcisse Mbiturende are dangerous criminals that cannot be allowed to move freely.

The two will be remanded for 30 days as investigations are completed – ready for the start of the trial of the accused. Court finds it necessary to keep the accused in detention “lest they return to the forests of the (DR) Congo or impede the course of justice,” said the Judge.

Judge Mbishibishi however said they have 15 days to appeal against the verdict.

The state alleges that the two have been working with Ms. Victoire Ingabire – chair of the FDU-Inkingi and Mr. Paul Rusesabagina, the man behind the Hollywood movie “Hotel Rwanda” to oust the Rwandan government. The ex-FDLR rebels were finalizing details of launching rebel groups for the two politicians, according to state prosecutor, Mr. Richard Muhumuza.

Ms. Ingabire herself is out on bail on charges of ethnic divisionism, negating the Tutsi Genocide and links to a terrorist group. Prosecution has linked the two officers to her as “accomplices”.

It was not clear if the defense of the officers will appeal the verdict.

However, the fate of Lt. Jean Marie Karuta, the third alleged accomplice is not known so far.

The accused were transferred immediately to the maximum security prison – known here as ‘1930’.

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April 30, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda needs the freedom to disagree with Kagame

by Linda Whetstone – International Policy Network.

Kagame, angry and upset!

Paul Kagame: No opponent allowed!

Rwanda’s President Kagame is good on economic freedom, but political freedom is just as important, argues IPN’s Chairman, Linda Whetstone

Economic reforms taken by President Kagame rightfully have attracted positive attention from the media and an array of outside supporters. These economic policies—unlike those of most other African governments—are the best way to enable Rwanda’s people to lift themselves from poverty.

Yet his supporters seem far too willing to overlook or forgive his views on free speech and the freedom of the press.
From first-hand experience, I know that President Kagame goes far further than “Europe’s laws against Holocaust denial,” practicing a policy of zero tolerance toward any journalist who criticizes him.
If Gordon Brown emulated this policy, few journalists would remain in the U.K. right now.

Mr. Kagame’s record on political freedom also looks increasingly weak at the moment.
Who of us would feel our democratic system to be in good working order if our political leader was facing no opposition in an upcoming election after being in power for seven years, because he had momentarily imprisoned the only potential opposition, in order to stop them from registering their party in the approaching elections?

President Kagame works very hard at his PR, but surely freedom is not divisible.
Those of us who believe in its creative power should give credit where credit is due, but also express constructive criticism or condemnation where freedom is seriously threatened or indeed extinguished.

Linda Whetstone

Chairman
International Policy Network
Hartfield, Sussex, U.K.

[Source: policynetwork.net]

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April 30, 2010   No Comments

Rwandan coffee to be roasted in USA by Westrock Coffee, Arkansas

Rwanda coffee

Rwanda coffee

Kigali – Coffee roasting giant Westrock Coffee will purchase massive quantities of dry Rwandan coffee to be shipped to the US state of Arkansas for roasting, the company announced after President Kagame met its executives.

Westrock Coffee, formerly Coffee Legends, will roast premium Rwandan coffees shipped to the North Little Rock facility by Little Rock’s Rwanda Trading Company, which is a coffee processor and exporter that owns a green-coffee dry mill in Kigali, Rwanda.

The decision of Westrock Coffee to import Rwandan dry coffee for roasting follows the acquisition of a new larger roasting facility located at 30 Collins Industrial Place in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

President Kagame visited Arkansas this week and met with business executives as well as Rwanda students in the area.

“The business that Rwanda Trading Company and Westrock Coffee are developing both in Rwanda and in Arkansas is an excellent example of partnerships that Rwanda seeks, one that strengthens our economy by building a bridge to the U.S. market for products produced by the Rwandan people,” said Mr. Kagame in a statement.

Rwanda Trading is a US-based company which was established in 2009 by a group of former Alltel executives,  including Scott Ford and others, who went to Rwanda to find for-profit business opportunities that were capitalistic in nature and would also make a meaningful difference in the lives of Rwandans.

Rwanda Trading Company bought state green-coffee exporter Rwandex in July last year for US$2.3million.
Since then, the company has invested several million dollars in the Kigali facility. As a result, Rwanda Trading has significantly increased its exports. In 2010, the company projects exports will increase fourfold over the previous year.

“We have built a significant network of suppliers in Rwanda to improve the efficiency of the coffee supply chain in that country,” said Westrock Coffee CEO, Steve McElhanon.
“Our new facility in North Little Rock will enhance our ability to deliver premium Rwandan coffee products to our customers across the country.”

The entry of Westrock Coffee into Rwanda’s coffee sector follows global coffee chain Starbucks which buys dry coffee directly from farmers in Rwanda and turns it into its own blends which are sold across its stores in the US, Europe and middle east. See New Rwandan Coffee Blend Released On US Market

[Adapted from http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article.aspx?aID=121710.54928.133855]

April 30, 2010   5 Comments

Rwanda: Two ex-FDLR militants arraigned in Gasabo court, admit complicity with Victoire Ingabire

Lt. Colonels Tharcise Nditurende (L) and Noel Habiyambere outside Gasabo court on 29 April 2010

Lt. Colonels Tharcise Nditurende (L) and Noel Habiyambere (R) outside Gasabo court on 29 April 2010

Kigali – TWO suspects accused for planning activities aimed at causing state insecurity, were arraigned before a judge at Gasabo Intermediate Court on Thursday.

Lt. Col Tharcisse Nditurende and Lt. Col Noel Habiyambere, who were senior commanders of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), admitted having worked with Ingabire and Paul Rusesabagina to form rebel groups to launch offensives in the country.

Victoire Ingabire is one of the founders of the opposition party FDU-Inkingi and is fighting to make of a constitutional state where international democratic standards are respected. She is ready to challenge the General Kagame during the August presidential elections but the Kagame regime stubbornly bars her from exercising her political rights. This court trial is part of the process used by the Rwanda government to break her and neutralize her since her return to Rwanda early this year.

Paul Rusesabagina is the real life hero of the acclaimed film “Hotel Rwanda”. Rusesabagina, portrayed by Don Cheadle in the film, saved the lives of more than 1200 people during the Rwandan genocide and has been honored internationally for his heroism. He later founded the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF) which works to prevent future genocides and raise awareness of the need for a new truth and reconciliation process in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Appearing before Judge Maurice Mbishibishi and flanked by their lawyers, the two Ex-FAR soldiers who were members of ALIR and later FOCA, the armed section of FDLR, did not waste the court’s time and admitted the charges prosecution brought against them.

“My Lord, save for a few facts, most of what the Prosecutor has said here is true, I don’t deny anything and I will readily cooperate in this case,” Nditurende, dressed in a black T-shirt and stripped trousers, told the court after the Prosecutor Richard Muhumuza had presented his case.

In a twist of events, the duo not only admitted having met Ingabire , on several occasions, but also stayed in touch with Rusesabagina before they were arrested by Burundian authorities and effectively extradited to Rwanda.

Nditurende and Habiyambere revealed how prior to their arrest, they were mobilising FDLR fighters to quit and join Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi/CDF and Rusesabagina’s PDR-Ihumure.

Nditurende in particular admitted having travelled to Kinshasa from Goma in September 2008 with a person named Dieudonne Muhindo-Muhima to meet Ingabire and again met her in Congo Brazzaville to carry on with the plans to start the armed group.

According to prosecution, the Kinshasa meeting came after exchanging a number of emails and phone calls with Ingabire and receiving money to facilitate their trips between Goma and Kinshasa as well as money to sustain them during the course of the meetings.

They also revealed that Ingabire and the Secretary General of FDU Inkingi, Jean Baptiste Mberabahizi, had met Nditurende’s representative Lt. Jean Marie Karuta in Kinshasa where they discussed and drew a list of what was needed to start the armed group.

Habiyambere, who had since quit FDLR and was working with Rusesabagina, informed the latter of Ingabire and Nditurende’s plans, and Rusesabagina recommended that the two former FDLR colonels join hands to form a much bigger group.

“I was working with Rusesabagina, but at the time, I did not know that they were planning terrorist activities. The difficult conditions I was living in in the jungles of DRC led me to work with them, I therefore beg for mercy,” Habiyambere told the court.

Ingabire and Rusesabagina continued to send money to DRC through Western Union to help them in their activities and also sustain them in the jungles of North Kivu as well as help them to acquire guns and ammunition.

Using Congolese documents, Nditurende passed though Goma Airport to Nairobi then Dar-es-Salaam where he connected with Habiyambere and then to Kigoma, from where travelled by road to Bujumbura.

The duo met a senior Burundi military officer, General Adolph Nshimiyimana, seeking his help, but he turned them down, telling them that they had no chance.

While in Bujumbura, the duo received money from Ingabire and Rusesabagina through a Burundian Bank. However, Burundian authorities swung into action and arrested them and handed them over to Rwanda.

The representatives of the duo applied for bail since they had willingly admitting to the charges and were ready to cooperate with the court, but the prosecution objected, arguing that the charges were serious and that they should remain in detention in the course of the trial.
Court will rule on Friday as to whether the accused should be granted a 30-day bail.

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April 30, 2010   1 Comment