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No more UK funds to the Rwanda Media High Council, says UK Minister

London – The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Stephen O’Brien) appeared on July 7 before the House of Commons.
He announced that, due to recent alarming developments in Rwanda, UK has no plans for further support to the Rwanda’s Media High Council.
Here is the report from the House of Commons on that particular issue:

Media High Council (Rwanda)

3. Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab):
What funding his Department plans to allocate to the media high council in Rwanda in 2011-12. [6263]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Stephen O’Brien):
The UN-led programme of support to six oversight institutions in Rwanda, including the media high council, comes to an end in this financial year. There are no plans for further DFID support.

Mary Creagh:
I thank the Minister for that reply, and I am relieved to hear that we will not be funding the media high council given that it has recently suspended Rwanda’s two leading independent newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, and given that a leading Rwandan journalist, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, was murdered in Rwanda in June.
Will the Minister make urgent representations, through his Department, to the Rwandan authorities and make sure that we fund things that promote freedom of speech, particularly in the run-up to the elections?

Mr O’Brien:
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for highlighting these issues. I assure her that when I visited Rwanda between 15 and 17 June I raised these very matters at all levels, including the very highest levels, in the various meetings I had. It is important that as part of the general support that DFID gives to help the Rwandan people, we press for the opening up of political space and that we make sure that pertains up to the election. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will take the opportunity, later this week in a meeting with the Rwandan high commissioner, to press the issues that the hon. Lady has rightly identified.

Source: Parlement.uk.

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July 8, 2010   4 Comments

SOS Rwanda – Please, help defuse the situation – before it’s too late

by Vincent Magombe.

Kagame is used to harassing the Hutus, but not other Tutsis. He is very frightened, very jittery and very aware that he is under threat.”

“What happened in 1994 arose partly because of international ignorance over how serious the situation was.
The world must be aware that things have the potential to get very bad once again.”

“Without an intervention, what comes next is unpredictable and extremely dangerous.

Vincent Magombe

It’s quite common to think of Rwanda as being split into Hutus and Tutsis – but the truth is much more complicated. It might have been the case in 1994, when Tutsis united in self-defence. Today, though, the picture is different.

Tutsis are not a uniform group. They are split along lines that are crucial to the unrest unfolding in Rwanda now. The President, Paul Kagame, is from the Umwega clan, which has traditionally provided the Tutsi queen. When he became leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front in the early 1990s, many of the generals, members of the Nyiginya clan that traditionally provided the king were uneasy – but they accepted it because of the threat they faced.

That was on the understanding that Kagame would return power to the Nyiginya – but he never had any intention of doing so. Now that his standing again at the forthcoming elections has made that clear, the Nyiginyas’ patience has run out. They are so determined to be rid of Kagame that they have set up a rival political party and they are even willing to deal with the Hutus. Kagame is used to harassing the Hutus, but not other Tutsis. He is very frightened, very jittery and very aware that he is under threat.

Now someone is killing dissidents, and the people who threaten the regime. Within Rwanda, well-placed enemies of the President are saying that he must be got rid of quickly. If nothing happens before the elections, Kagame will impose himself again. But it is possible that his enemies will organise themselves and come back with violence. Kagame doesn’t know who is loyal to him anymore; his enemies are lying low, but there could be an assassination attempt or a coup.

What happened in 1994 arose partly because of international ignorance over how serious the situation was. The world must be aware that things have the potential to get very bad once again. The UK is one of the countries best-placed to defuse the situation, because of the excellent relationship Tony Blair established with Kagame. Without an intervention, what comes next is unpredictable and extremely dangerous.

The author is head of Africa Inform International, a network of African journalists

Source: The Independent.

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July 8, 2010   1 Comment

Tortured Rwandan female opposition politician falls unconscious in court

Her party leader claimed in a statement last week that she had been “bleeding due to kicks to her stomach”. They said she has been denied access to a medical doctor.

The opposition leaders Frank Habineza and Victoire Ingabire looked on in court helplessly as their members faced hours on grilling in the court.

Kigali – More than 10 hours of court proceedings left a female politician of the yet-to-be registered FDU-Inkingi group unconscious as her health deteriorated in court Wednesday, RNA reports.

Alice Muhirwa, the treasurer of the party of embattled Victoire Ingabire lost ground and collapsed as she and seven other co-accused stood in the dock accused by the state of terrorism and taking part in an unlawful gathering on June 24.

Ms Muhirwa is part of the case in which ex-head of PS Imberakuri Bernard Ntaganda have been dragged to court over several charges. Ntaganda is facing four counts including terrorism and ethnic divisionism.

They were paraded in court after being arrested on June 24, as they demonstrated at the US embassy against the electoral commission. Police said on the same day that it had rounded up some 30 people including senior leaders of the three troubled opposition groups.

On Tuesday, prosecution brought the nine to court – but with Ntaganda charged separately from the other eight. He spent most of Tuesday defending himself – which was often countered by vigorous prosecution submissions. He has pleaded not guilty and instead wants bail.

On Wednesday, it had been expected that the eight co-accused would have their cases settled, but since 9am local time till late in the evening, the two sides could not finalise their arguments.

During the morning session, the eight took turns to deny any links to terrorism and dismissed prosecution claims that they had take part in the June protests. Prosecution had boxes of protest posters and crude weapons which were supposedly to be used to cause chaos on that day.

Unconscious Alice Muhirwa lying, waiting for the ambulance outside the court in Kigali.

Tortured Alice Muhirwa lying unconscious, waiting for the ambulance outside the court in Kigali.

In the afternoon session, Alice Muhirwa seemed to have been overwhelmed with the situation and collapsed. Prosecution says she has been admitted at the newly constructed state-of-the-art Police Hospital in Kacyiru.

Her party leader claimed in a statement last week that she had been “bleeding due to kicks to her stomach”. They said she has been denied access to a medical doctor.

Police dismissed the accusations saying the International Committee of the Red Crescent (ICRC) had visited the suspects, and that their family members were regularly visiting them.

The opposition leaders Frank Habineza and Victoire Ingabire looked on in court helplessly as their members faced hours on grilling in the court.

Court ruled that it will wait to hear the defense of Alice Muhirwa on Thursday morning before making any decision on the bail application of all the accused.

Their main defense in court was showing they had been tortured in police custody, and want medical help – but prosecution says they are making up the medical concerns, and instead wants them to stay in jail for another month as investigations continue.

[ARI-RNA]

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July 8, 2010   4 Comments

France has requested extradition of fugitive Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa

Fugitive Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity

Fugitive Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity

Johannesburg: France has requested South Africa to extradite a Rwandan general, who was once a high commissioner to India, to face charges related to his alleged role in the 1994 assassination of the leaders of Rwanda and Burundi.

Lieutenant-General Kayumba Nyamwasa was the chief of the Rwandan Army until 2010, when he fled to South Africa after falling out with Rwandan president Paul Kagame and is seeking asylum in South Africa.

Justice ministry spokesman Tlali Tlali confirmed that France had requested South Africa to extradite lieutenant-general Kayumba Nyamwasa, adding to a similar request by Rwanda to do the same.

Nyamwasa is wanted in Rwanda to address allegations of his involvement in mortar attacks in the country in February this year before he fled to South Africa, where his application for refugee status is still pending.

The former military head was also found guilty in 2006 France for his involvement in shooting down an aircraft in 1994, killing the former presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and sparking a civil war in Rwanda which left hundreds of thousands dead.

In 2008, Nyamwasa was found guilty in Spain for complicity in the murder of nine Spanish nuns and emergency workers.

Meanwhile, experts have said that the South African government would have to first consider the extradition requests from Rwanda before that of France.

“He will have to provide evidence that his life would be in danger if he is extradited. The recent attempt on his life will probably be part thereof,” said Prof Andre Thomashausen of the Centre for International Studies at the University of South Africa.

Nyamwasa survived an alleged assassination attempt recently outside his house in Johannesburg, for which four men are currently facing charges.

He served as Rwanda’s High Commissioner to India from 2004-2010.

[Zee News]

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July 8, 2010   4 Comments