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Rwanda’s unresolved secret history

Journalist Timothy Kalyegira of the Daily Monitor writes about the Rwanda’s unresolved secret history.

The June 19 attempt on the life of the former Rwandan Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, was the final event in a slowly gathering cluster of incidents, trends, and question marks over Rwanda since 2006.

That was when the now-retired French anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere issued arrest warrants for nine top Rwandan army officers (including Nyamwasa) whom he implicated in the shooting down of the Rwandan presidential jet on April 6, 1994.
Since the attempt on Nyamwasa’s life, story after story in the Western news media have focused on nothing but the theme of a country once on the path to recovery from genocide in 1994 and now headed for self-destruction.

As if to snub Rwanda, the deputy director-general in South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs, Jackson McKay, said last week, on June 24, that Nyamwasa had applied for political asylum and had been granted it, despite earlier appeals by the Rwanda government for him to be extradited to stand trial.

“It is hard to imagine that a shooting in Johannesburg could spell instability in the distant heart of Africa,” commented London’s The Economist — one of the world’s most influential news publications – on June 22. “But that is what has happened…opposition within Mr [Paul] Kagame’s own set may be brewing…Rwanda has had a number of unexplained killings. For example, Seth Sendashonga, a moderate Hutu who served as interior minister after the genocide, was shot dead in 1998 in Nairobi…Dozens of Rwandan army officers are thought to have been shot, have disappeared or have had accidents. Some harboured secrets and knew about cover-ups of government revenge killings after the genocide.”

For the first time, a major Anglo-Western publication, reported on the assassination of Sedashonga at all or in a sympathetic light and with a subtle hint at who might have ordered that shooting in Nairobi.

Erlinder arrest

The Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper in the United States, in its June 23 edition echoed this new air of suspicion over President Kagame after the arrest of Peter Erlinder, the lawyer of the opposition leader Victoire Ingabire: “Civilised nations don’t throw defence attorneys into prison. That Rwanda did suggests that Kagame has something to hide…”

The African Bulletin of June 30 suggested a reason that Nyamwasa could have been targeted: “[T]he arrests, the leaks and assassinations abroad, successful or not, accumulate…General Kayumba [Nyamwasa] is potentially the main rival of Paul Kagame. The two men first met in Uganda and they worked together in the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Between them, they know all about big and little secrets of the Rwandan authorities…Paul Kagame begins to irritate even his biggest supporters…”

The Associated Press published a story with this headline on June 29: ‘Rwanda’s Hutus live in fear of attacks, repression’ and the BBC World Service, in its main world news on June 28, broadcast a news item on a new report by a human rights group on the flight of Hutu refugees in Uganda who are being hunted down, arrested and some even killed.
This marks the first time since the ruling RPF government took power in Kigali in 1994 that the mainstream media in the English-speaking Western nations has portrayed the Hutu of Rwanda as victims. On June 29, the Rwanda government fought back. Radio Rwanda, in a news broadcast, said: “President Paul Kagame has criticised the international rights groups like the Human Rights Watch which have continued to tarnish Rwanda’s image by publishing baseless information aimed at undermining the country’s efforts of the last 16 years.”

The Western media largely ignored Kagame’s press conference and the barrage of criticism has continued. The question then is: Has Rwanda been making concrete strides in these 16 years, as Kagame said, or was it a case of 16 years spent glossing over dark, sensitive secrets and unresolved conflicts within the ranks of the elite in power in Kigali?

Because the RPF was an English-speaking group at the time it invaded Rwanda in 1990 and its mentor, President Yoweri Museveni was still admired by the West, this aura rubbed off on the RPF and it received consistently positive coverage from the Anglo-West’s news media right through to and after the RPF’s victory in July 1994.
But, as an exiled Rwanda journalist Charles Kabonero told KFM’s Hot Seat show on Friday, June 25, there was never press freedom in RPF’s Rwanda from the beginning in 1994.

So while the regional and world media focused on the genocide and Hutu’s role in it, there was never sufficient attention given to these highly sensitive reports and rumours of Tutsi-on-Tutsi assassinations and mysterious deaths.

The recent attempt on Lt. Gen. Nyamwasa’s life, the exiling of the former foreign intelligence director Col. Patrick Karegeya, several journalists gunned down or in exile, ambassadors fleeing into exile from their posts in Europe — and most of these being Tutsi — have puzzled many in the English-speaking West. The truth is, had the West not romanticised the RPF and had the RPF not muzzled the media, none of the recent developments would have surprised anybody.

RPF founding

The RPF from its founding in Uganda in 1989 was always steeped in intrigue. When President Museveni praised the late Maj. Gen. Fred Rwigema at the Liberation Day ceremonies at Kigali’s Amahoro Stadium on July 4, 2009, a mummer went through the crowd and tensions rose within the Rwandan army.

This seemed strange to observers, as this was the equivalent to praising Nelson Mandela and it stirs controversy in South Africa’s ANC party. Barely had the RPF’s guerrilla war started in October 1990 than four of its top officers Maj. Gen. Rwigema, Maj. Peter Bayingana, Maj Chris Bunyenyezi and Maj. Frank Munyaneza were dead, murdered in still unexplained circumstances but the killings clearly a work from within the Tutsi rebel ranks.

A Tutsi from Mbarara in western Uganda and former FRONASA soldier, Maj. Adam Wasswa, was the deputy commander of the RPA to Rwigyema at the time of the Rwanda invasion.
On July 28, 1991, as Maj. Wasswa was travelling in a Toyota Land Cruiser with Kagame for an RPF High Command meeting in Rwanda, the vehicle is said to have been involved in an accident. Wasswa died. An RPA Captain Kairangwa in the vehicle also died. To this day, the facts of this accident have never been explained.

For the last 10 years, President Kagame has focused Rwanda and the eyes of the West on economic growth, fibre optic Internet cables, laptop computers to schools, and creating an image of effective, disciplined government and the making of an African Singapore. Swept under the carpet were all the dark skeletons of the RPF dating back to 1990.

Source: Daily Monitor.

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July 5, 2010   No Comments

Differences between Hitler’s Germany and Rwanda of 1994

As part of comments on the article U.S. “Lawyer Wrongly Arrested in Rwanda” written in the Huffingtonpost by Heidi Boghosian on May 28, Rukundo asked the question:

On a quick google glance, I have seen that he often puts the words Rwandan Genocide in quotation marks and talks about a cover-up. Are there other examples of Erlinder’s comments that deny that there was a Genocide in Rwanda? Or what are the specifics of the charges against Erlinder?

Depending on your response to the above questions, can you then explain what would happen to someone in Germany if they did the same as what Erlinder says about Rwanda? Would s/he be arrested there for denying the Genocide? Is there a difference in the Rwandan context?

Aimable reply:

Rukundo, I would like to publicly state the following differences between Hitler’s Germany and Rwanda of 1994:

1. The Jews in Germany have never enslaved Germans and never claimed that they were superior and born to rule over the German masses.
Some extremist Tutsis in Rwanda were an aristocratic minority that enslaved the Hutu peasant majority for over 400 years all the way until 1959. When the Hutu peasants asked for democracy the extremist Tutsis responded that the Hutu masses were inferior by birth and were born to be ruled by the superior Tutsi aristocrats.

2. The Jews in Germany have never started a war attacking Germany from a foreign country.
Some extremist Tutsis in Rwanda attacked the country from Uganda on October 1st, 1990. This was more than 5 times since 1960 that the extremist Tutsis had attacked the country.

3. The Jews in Germany did not spend a 4 year war fighting to gain power and in the process killing innocent German civilians.
Some extremist Tutsis in Rwanda fought since October 1990 until April 1994 fighting to gain power and in the process displaced 1 million civilians and killed thousands others, an example being on February 8, 1993 when the Tutsi extremists in the RPF killed 40 thousand unarmed civilians in Byumba and Ruhengeri.

4. The Jews in Germany did not kill the German president, together with the Austrian president, the Chief of Army and several high-ranking officials after they had signed a peace treaty with them.
Some extremist Tutsis in Rwanda killed the Hutu President of Rwanda, the Hutu President of Burundi, the Hutu Chief of Army and several high-ranking officials after they had signed a peace treaty with them.

5. The Jews in Germany did not follow the Germans into exile in neighboring countries and kill hundreds of thousands of them in forests like hunted animals.
Some extremist Tutsis in Rwanda bombed refugee camps in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and chased the survivors into the forests of the Congo (DRC) where they butchered hundreds of thousands of them.

Therefore, I really think it is completely wrong to compare Hitler’s Germany to 1994 Rwanda.


Rwanda Circa 1994 is No Nazi Germany

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July 5, 2010   3 Comments

Rwandan shootings, clampdown stir fears ahead of polls

The situation in Rwanda is increasingly alarming. Here is an analysis made by David Lewis in his article “ANALYSIS-Rwandan shootings, clampdown stir fears ahead of polls”.

* Rwanda in spotlight after attacks on journalist, general

* Formerly unflinching allies uneasy, fears of divisions

* Clamp-down seen ahead of election Kagame likely to win

By David Lewis

NAIROBI, July 2 (Reuters) – The shooting of an exiled dissident general and a journalist will embarrass Rwanda’s allies, ever more uncomfortable about political repression, but more worrying is the escalating risk of a violent fall-out from increasingly public divisions within the ruling elite.

President Paul Kagame — who ended Rwanda’s 1994 genocide by sweeping to power with his Tutsi-dominated rebel army, and has since been praised for restoring order and attracting investors — is sure to win re-election for another seven years in August.

But an attack on his former confidant and army chief in South Africa, and the slaying of a critical journalist at home are piling pressure on a government already accused of stifling political rivals and involved in highly charged legal case against a US lawyer accused of denying the 1994 genocide.

Four people have appeared in court, suspected of the attempted murder of Lieutenant-General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, while two others, including a former Rwandan intelligence officer, were freed. No nationalities were given.

South Africa has said it is not ready to comment further on the attack, but security sources suspect Rwandan involvement.

Rwanda says such accusations are preposterous, but links were anyway quickly made with killings in the 1990s of dissidents abroad, blamed then on Rwanda’s security services.

Theories of a bungled robbery have also been put in doubt by reports from Nyamwasa’s wife, who was with him, that the attackers targeted Nyamwasa, rather than valuables or their car.

Henri Boshoff, an analyst at the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies, said Pretoria was furious an attack had taken place, especially during the World Cup, and the incident left Kagame some tricky questions to answer.

But it has also left South Africa, a key Rwandan ally and business partner, with an awkward incident on its hands, he said.

Nyamwasa was serving as Kigali’s ambassador to India when he fled Rwanda during official meetings earlier this year. He, and another senior army officer also living in exile in South Africa, have been accused of corruption and involvement in a series of mysterious grenade attacks by Kagame’s government.

The pair deny the charges and say Kagame is abusing an anti-corruption drive to frame his opponents.


Rwanda and South Africa have been in talks over Kigali’s request to extradite Nyamwasa.

“(South Africa) can get out of this embarrassment by not agreeing to his extradition and making sure they follow the investigations to the end, even if it leads to Kigali,” said Carina Tertsakian, Rwanda researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Diplomatically, it could be tricky,” she said.

Last week, Jean Leonard Rugambage, an investigative journalist was killed in a hail of bullets outside his house. Ruganbage’s editor linked his death to a story blaming Rwandan intelligence for Nyamwasa’s death, a charge denied by Kigali.

Kagame has enjoyed a free hand in Rwanda, building up the army to assert his authority at home and abroad, as well as using anti-genocide legislation to clamp down on opponents.

Citing the world’s failure to stop the 1994 slaughter, he has often batted away foreign criticism. Rwanda was named the world’s top reformer in the Doing Business Report 2010.

But the mounting incidents are testing patience.

“Even Rwanda’s traditional allies like the U.S. and Britain are concerned, and more willing to say so publicly than at any point since the 1994 genocide,” said Philippe de Pontet, Africa analyst at Eurasia Group.

“There’s a sense that it may be time to reconsider the diplomatic blank check if the crackdown on dissent continues to intensify in coming weeks,” he added.


Earlier this year, the U.S. government, a steadfast Kigali ally, took the unprecedented step of registering its concerns about moves to stifle freedoms of the press and the opposition.

A further thorn in the relations between the two nations has been Kigali’s arrest of Peter Erlinder, a U.S. lawyer who went to Rwanda to defend Victoire Ingabire, the arrested opposition leader, and was swiftly accused of denying the genocide.

Eurasia’s de Pontet said investors would probably be less worried, given Rwanda’s overall business climate, high growth and an assumption Kagame would be around for seven more years.

But, given Rwanda’s history and the restrictions on dissent from either friends or foes, others are more nervous.

Nyamwasa was highly popular during his time in charge of the army and was closely connected to Congolese rebels that U.N. experts say Kigali once backed but has now alienated. One reason given for the row is Kagame’s fearing Nyamwasa was a threat.

His shooting also follows the arrest of two senior officers and a military reshuffle since the beginning of the year, leading to speculation of a rift between Kagame and top aides in the RPF political party and the army.

While crackdowns on opponents or splits within the RPF are not new, one Rwanda expert, who asked not to be named, said the current rumblings were unprecedented within the inner circle, where Kagame has seen discontent but never a serious rival.

“It is certainly possible that it could get nasty,” he said.

Source: Reuters.

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July 5, 2010   No Comments

Rwandans are disappointed about US and UK support to Kagame

It is now clearly established that Kagame is using violence, assassinations and torture to remain in power. After the assassination of Umuvugizi journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage by Kagame’s regime, the editor of Umuvugizi Jean Bosco Gasasira expresses Rwandans’ disappointment about donors silence.
Listen to: [wpaudio url=”″ text=”Jean Bosco Gasasira on Kpfa radio” dl=”0″]

Related article:
Rwandans ‘desperate,’ US and UK silent.

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July 5, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: RPF led armed struggle was all but liberation

by Dr Jean-Baptiste Mberabahizi – UDF-Inkingi Support Committee.

Thursday July 1, 2010, pro-RPF government outlet “The New Times” has published a story by Edmund Kagire under the title “Liberation struggle in 6th phase-Ombudsman” He was quoting RPF chief ideologue Tito Rutaremara who is engaged in one of his favourite hobby: revolutionary talk as a tool to mask RPF’s counter-revolutionary character.

These liars can’t keep on lying and get away with it unchallenged anymore.
Dr Jean-Baptiste Mberabahizi

The title and the content of this piece of paper is one of the very many so-called revolutionary statements this man and his anti-people boss Paul Kagame have been serving to unaware progressive people in Africa and the World as whole. This has lasted quite a long time. These liars can’t keep on lying and get away with it unchallenged anymore.

The author affirms that Tito Rutaremara said that “while many would think that the Liberation struggle ended on July 4, 1994 when the forces of Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) brought an end to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the revolution is now in its 6th and, most probably, final phase”

He further adds that “the idea was to liberate Rwandans from the bad leadership at the time and all the ills that went with it such as ethnic divisions, poverty, ignorance and concentration of power into the hands of a group of people”.

These two statements summarize admirably the emptiness and bankruptcy of the RPF as far as Rwandan revolution is concerned in general and Tito Rutaremara’s in particular.

First of all, as every one has noticed that Rutaremara is incapable of defining clearly the character of the RPF led so-called revolution. Secondly, the fact that he places the beginning of this so-called revolution “as far back as 1978 when a clique of people sat and developed the idea of the struggle” shows that he confounds the planning, preparation and launching of an armed struggle for power, what the RPF founders did indeed, with revolution. What took place in Rwanda is simply an armed struggle for power opposing different factions of the Rwandan petty bourgeois, each of which mobilized support from sections of the Rwandan masses for his cause through ethnic lines.

In 1994, Tutsi petty bourgeois supremacists took power militarily from Hutu petty bourgeois populists in the context of post cold-war Western powers’ rivalries. There was no change as far as the character of the class in power is concerned. So, one can’t talk about revolution or liberation in that process.

Rutaremara confirms this when he says that they were liberating Rwandans from “the bad leadership”. In a society, revolution is not about good or bad leadership. Revolution is about a fundamental shift of power from a class to another class in society.

For example, in the 1950’s, Rwandan peasants and petty bourgeois allied and overthrew the Rwandan aristocracy. In the process, Rwanda passed from a feudal and colonial mode of production to a pre-capitalist and neo-colonial mode of production.

What Rutaremara can’t confess to the general public and what makes him being so embroiled in empty rhetoric about revolution is the fact that he actively took part in the counter-revolutionary movement that tried unsuccessfully to reverse the process in the 1960’s. And of course, he hides the fact that the group he refers to as those who “started the revolution” in 1978 is actually “RANU” which was an outfit made of sympathizers or remnants of the counter-revolutionary UNAR of the 1960’s, a kind of avatar. This outfit regrouped all of those who supported the old Tutsi feudal class that engaged itself in collaboration with the German and the Belgian colonialists to oppress and exploit the Rwandan masses for seventy years.

That’s why Tito Rutaremara can’t acknowledge the true character of the RPF so-called “revolutionary” struggle.

Now, coming to the character and content of the Rwandan revolution, in the neo-colonial period that started on July 1, 1962 when Rwanda gained formal independence from the Belgian colonialists, although it was both partial and badly managed because of the weaknesses of its leaders at the time, the journey from monarchism and colonialism to democracy and independence, started as back as the 1950s and the 1890s respectively.

In fact, the national revolution started in the 1890’s when Rwandans resisted militarily against Belgian colonialists in Shangi, former Cyangugu prefecture under the leadership of Bisangwa bya Rugombituri who eventually was killed in that fight. As for the democratic revolution, it started in the 1950s. By then, Rwandans needed to be liberated from both feudalism and colonialism.

That these two processes were split is not a matter of discussion. That the leaders of the democratic revolution were ideologically and politically weak and failed to correctly direct revolutionary violence against the aristocrats as a leading social class and not against individual Tutsi feudalists or even ordinary Tutsis is not a matter of controversy either.

But this can’t change the fact that the revolution was on track since those days. The question is how the national and democratic revolution is going to be achieved and who’s going to lead it.

When the RPF took up arms for power in the 1990s, what Rwandans had and still have to sort out is whether Rwandan pre-industrial society will move to the industrial society and develop their productive forces under the leadership of Tutsi neo-colonial supremacists or Hutu neo-colonial populists or if they will do so under the leadership of true Rwandan revolutionaries in the context of globalization of capitalism and Western powers’ rivalries in the Great Lakes region and in Africa as a whole.

This is the problem Rwanda faces now. That Kagame and Rutaremara’s RPF are definitely not in position to lead that process is now obvious. Not only what they are engaged in since 1978 is not a revolution, it’s even worse. They are engaged in a counter-revolutionary process whatever phase it may be moving to.

And their rhetoric about revolution or liberation can’t do much to reverse that state of things. As a counter-revolutionary force, the RPF can’t turn itself into a revolutionary movement by the will of the Holly Spirit or by the grace of the gospel preached by these two chief impostors.

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July 5, 2010   No Comments