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Lt. Abdul Ruzibiza, key witness in Habyarimana’s plane shooting, is dead

Kigali: The key French witness in the alleged shooting down of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane, Lt. Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza is dead.

Ruzibiza, 40, died Thursday of natural causes in a hospital in Oslo-Norway where he has been exiled for more than 10 years.

The father of five suddenly sprung in the news with the publication of a damning book ‘L’histoire secrete’ in which he was critical of President Kagame and the ruling RPF party. The book among many accusations claims the RPF was behind the downing of President Habyarimana plane on April 06 1994 – which culminated into the Genocide against Tutsis.

Ruzibiza became a key witness of French Judge Jean Louis Bruguiere who indicted 9 Rwandan officials in November 2006 over the shooting of the plane.

However, last year, Ruzibiza took the airwaves with another surprise – withdrawing the allegation that RPF was behind the plane downing. He explained in various media interviews that he had made the allegations as a plot to get close to the French – saying he wanted to understand why they hated Tutsis.

Sources in Norway say Ruzibiza died of cancer.


September 24, 2010   2 Comments

General Kagame says he never made a threat to withdraw peacekeeping troops

As reported by journalist Joe Lauria in the Wall Street Journal, talking about the threat to withdraw Rwandan troops from the UN peacekeeping force in Sudan if UN published the Genocide report, embattled General Kagame said he had never made such a “threat,” but added that if the U.N. decided to pursue the report’s allegations in a court, he would reconsider.

Here is how WSJ reports the news:

Rwanda to Keep U.N. Contingent

NEW YORK—Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday backed away from a threat to withdraw his country’s troops from a peacekeeping mission in Sudan if the United Nations published a report accusing Rwandan soldiers of genocide in neighboring Congo in the late 1990s.

“That is not on the table,” Mr. Kagame said in an interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Mr. Kagame said he had never made such a “threat,” but added that if the U.N. decided to pursue the report’s allegations in a court, he would reconsider.

The 509-page report by the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights was leaked in August, setting off a diplomatic crisis.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who called the charges “absurd,” said in a letter to the U.N. following the leak that “attempts to take action on this report—either through its release or leaks to the media— … will force us to withdraw from Rwanda’s various commitments to the United Nations, especially in the area of peacekeeping.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew to Kigali, the Rwandan capital, earlier this month to plead with Mr. Kagame not to pull the country’s 3,000 troops out of Sudan just months before a crucial referendum on independence for southern Sudan. Diplomats fear war could break out if the referendum isn’t held and the south declares unilateral independence. The withdrawal of Rwandan troops from the 20,000-strong hybrid U.N.-African Union peace force could further destabilize the country, U.N officials said.

“The secretary-general would strongly hope that Rwanda would keep up the excellent work that it has done up to now in peacekeeping operations,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirsky said Thursday.

U.S. officials couldn’t be reached to comment on Mr. Kagame’s remarks Thursday.

Despite Rwanda’s initial reaction, Mr. Ban said the report would be released on Oct. 1. The leaked draft documents mass murders, rapes and other abuses committed in Congo from 1993 to 2003 by several armed groups, including the Rwandan army. The draft, a copy of which was seen by The Wall Street Journal, says Rwandan forces hunted down and killed “tens of thousands” of Rwandan Hutus living as refugees in Congo in 1996 and 1997, when the country was known as Zaire.

The soldiers were ostensibly tracking suspects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. But according to the U.N. report, they often made little or no effort to distinguish genocide suspects from innocent refugees. Groups of people were shot, raped, burned or beaten, it says. “The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who posed no threat to the attacking forces,” the report says.

Mr. Kagame said some Rwandan soldiers had been disciplined during this period, but “it doesn’t amount to anything near to what is being talked about in the report.”

U.N. investigators also accuse Rwanda of smuggling illegally mined minerals out of Congo. Mr. Kagame said in the interview that U.S., British, Canadian, French and Belgian mining companies should be asked what they were doing in Congo. These “companies … have been exploiting the minerals of the Congo in many ways,” he said, while Rwanda hadn’t profited at all.


September 24, 2010   3 Comments

Rwanda: Development Partners need to support lasting solution

by Victoire Ingabire.

Kigali (Sept. 24) – The problem of aid and political conditionality and especially good governance and democratisation process has been a recurrent topic in the discussions between donor countries and beneficiaries.  This has obliged some dictatorships to open up the political space and level the playing field  or like in the case of Rwanda to police up a controlled  democratisation process with no opposition or elections with no competitors.  The current political and military crisis is dragging the country to the brink of chaos. Will the donors prioritize the stability of the country or just back up  the regime with no questions asked? This is the right time to judge the sincerity of bilateral and international development partners.  Will they once again turn a blind eye to the unfolding  crossroads or will they put pressure for a transitional negotiated process between the incumbent and his opposition?

The failure of the democratisation process.

Last month, officially General Paul KAGAME, in a very much touted landslide presidential election victory, scored more than 93%.  It took him a whole month to align in full his already existing cabinet  and to announce   tougher measures against non armed dissents.

Prior to August 2010 presidential election, human rights organisations and international media widely reported increased massive political repression  and crackdown on independent media. A political key figure and a journalist were slaughtered. No independent investigation has been allowed and instead the “confessing” arrested-suspects have been released. Human Rights Watch on 2nd August 2010 documented a worrying pattern of intimidation, harassment and other abuses – ranging from killings and arrests to restrictive administrative measures – against opposition parties, journalists, members of civil society and other critics.  Opposition parties were either prevented to register, either their leaders were and still are incarcerated or indefinitely kept under extended house arrest.

On 11th  August 2010 in  Brussels the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs on the Presidential Elections in Rwanda commended  the calm atmosphere but reminded: “The EU is still concerned about the serious incidents which marred the pre-electoral period and urges the Rwandese authorities to ensure that the investigations and judicial proceedings regarding these events are carried out in full transparency and as rapidly as possible.

Further opening of the political space and strengthening the public debate throughout the country would significantly contribute to safeguarding Rwanda’s achievements and will benefit all Rwandese”.

The report of the Commonwealth election observer group noted the peaceful aspect of the election but  mentioned that “however, while the campaign was fairly active, albeit dominated by the largest party, the fact that the four candidates were all drawn from the governing coalition meant there was a lack of critical opposition voices. A number of opposition parties had earlier stated their intention to stand but faced either legal or administrative problems, which resulted in their non-participation”.

Many other organisations and nations have expressed their concerns over the level of exclusion of the opposition.

It’s our right now to question clearly and publicly the legitimacy of the election results until dialogue, negotiation and compromise are reached.

Arm-wrestling contest with the UN over large scale mass killings in the DRC

Early September 2010, a leaked report, by the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR), detailing  undoubtedly war crimes and what “could be classified as crimes of genocide” committed by the RPF government and the army during the invasions and subsequent “relentless pursuit and mass killing” of Hutus  in the Democratic Republic of the Congo  sparkled an arm-wrestling between the UN and the regime.  The government of General Paul KAGAME angrily threatened to pull 3,500 troops out of a Darfur peace keeping mission  and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights announced that the report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 1993 and 2003 will be made public on 1 October 2010.

This report brings to surface other thousands of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda by the RPF during and after the genocide in 1994.

Whatever will be the outcome of the pressure and hidden negotiations to alter the draft report the credibility of the government of General Paul KAGAME and his ruling RPF remains an open question.

Poverty reduction scam

Most development partners of Rwanda rely on the ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY 2008 – 2012 discussed previously with the government. It is a paper painting a glowing picture of a “stable nation, on the path to achieving better lives for each and every one of (the country’s) citizens”.

The FDU Inkingi does not share this optimistic diagnosis. Indeed, the so called achievements are not self sustainable in the medium and long term as they are based on heavy external aid.

For example, for the fiscal year 2010-2011, out of a total budget of billions 984 RWF, 345 billions are expected to be foreign funded.

This is a result of the government economic priorities which do not address the most urgent problems of national cohesion, economic equal opportunity and self sustainability.

Ascertaining that poverty has fallen under the leadership of the current regime is far from the truth. Indeed the bottom line should not be 1994, but well before the war. According to UNDP, the total number of people living under severe poverty is 60% (see also table 2.2.). This figure was 47% under the previous regime.

Exit strategy that is put forward by the government paper suggests among other to increase paid employment (page 24). Yet, even some of the paid workers live now under the poverty line. A recent survey by our economic desk shows that a medical worker (infirmier) earns 90.000 RWF. Assuming that he/she is married and has two children, which is well conservative, he/she will spend, according to our survey, a minimum of 141.000 RWF per month on basic items like foods, transport fees, and house rent. This leaves a deficit of over 50.000RWF to this medical worker. The situation is worse for primary school teacher. Some of them are simply deserting their profession as they can no longer sustain their families with their salaries.

As acknowledged by government paper (item 2.20) income inequality is increasing, both between rural and urban areas, and between Eastern province and the rest of the country, the Southern province lagging well behind. The GINI coefficient (page 142, figure 7.3) rose from 47% in 2001/2002 to 51% in 2005/2006. Rwanda was well above the average of the other African countries’ Gini coefficients. In other word, around 40% of the national wealth is in the hands of 10% of the rich. The so much lauded economic growth has therefore not contributed to the reduction of poverty, as it mainly benefited to the already rich class.

Reducing poverty is not just a window-dressing, it is more than cleaning the streets of Kigali or planting flowers along the streets. Reducing poverty is fighting it where it is the most severe, i.e. in rural and suburb areas. It is unacceptable that “68% of the total poverty reduction in the country be accounted for by a single province (page 25), which is by any standard the most populated.

Serious step towards a long lasting solution are needed.

In the background of the shrinking credibility and legitimacy of the Rwandan regime unfolds a deeper military crisis as well. A political and military decomposition of dictatorships have incalculable consequences in developing nations.  The only way to avoid total disintegration, chaos and a possible other Somalia is to tighten a strong international pressure to work on a solution to the political impasse.  The government should release all political prisoners i.e. Mr. Deogratias MUSHAYIDI (life sentence); Mr. Charles NTAKIRUTINKA (15 years); Dr.  Théoneste NIYITEGEKA (15 years); Mr. Bernard NTAGANDA, Mr. Martin NTAVUKA and drop all politically motivated  charges  against   the PS Imberakuri and the FDU INKINGI leaders including myself.

Independent inquiry on the murder of the Vice President of the Green Democratic Party of Rwanda Mr. André KAGWA RWISEREKA,  and the assassination of the journalist Jean Léonard RUGAMBAGE should start now.

We need an immediate mediation process for a negotiated solution which allows face to be saved and an agreement for an all inclusive transitional system that will  prepare a total democratisation of Rwanda.

Our plea to the donors is to “seek ways to ensure that it builds institutional capacity for the country’s continued progress, not political capacity for KAGAME’s continued power” . This is well described by    Charles Landow (associate director of the Civil Society, Markets and Democracy Initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations. The KAGAME Dilemma, September 8, 2010): “a constrained political climate punctuated by violence is hardly the way to preserve economic stability and poverty reduction in a country still recovering from wars and in a region full of conflict and the potential for more”. Continuing to dish in financial aid without taking into account this reality is like pouring water in a bottomless pit.


September 24, 2010   1 Comment