Rwanda: Assassination attempt linked to President Kagame

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Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame

A critic of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has survived an assassination attempt in South Africa, and his wife has claimed that President Kagame wanted him dead. However, the Rwandan government has denied accusations that it was behind the attempted murder.

According to reports, Lt Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a critic of Rwanda’s president had been in exile to South Africa. He has become a thorn in the flesh of Mr. Kagame, whom he has continually accused of corruption. Lt Gen Nyamwasa also claimed the Rwandan judiciary was compromised and that judges were now “President Paul Kagame’s property.”

Following the attempted assassination of Lt Gen Nyamwasa, his wife Mrs. Rosette Nyamwasa told the BBC that Mr. Kagame wanted her husband dead. “[Mr Kagame] said it in parliament that he will actually kill my husband, that wherever he is he will follow him and kill him,” she was quoted.

“[The gunman] spoke to my driver, but he wanted space to be able to shoot my husband. Then when my husband bent, he shot and fortunately, it went into the stomach and not in the head. My husband got out immediately, and he grabbed the gun. In that kind of scuffle, the guy couldn’t cock the gun,” Mrs. Nyamwasa narrated.

The assassination attempt comes two months before Rwanda’s elections, and President Kagame’s critics have raised concerns about his more authoritarian tendencies and have accused his government of harassing the opposition ahead of the elections.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told reporters that there was evidence that Lt Gen Nyamwasa was responsible for a campaign of violence in Rwanda. However, he [Mushikiwabo] reiterated that Mr. Kagame’s government had nothing to do with his assassination attempt.

“I’ll not speculate much more, as this is a case that has yet to be prosecuted, but there are very serious charges against him on his links with networks that have been planting grenades in the country since the beginning of the year,” Ms. Mushikiwabo was quoted.

The falling-out

Mr. Kagame, has been in power for the last 16 years, and is viewed by many in the West as one of Africa’s more dynamic leaders. But, while Mr. Kagame was leader of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Lt Gen Nyamwasa played an important role in the rebellion that stopped the killings. He was one of President Kagame’s closest confidants, until they fell out.

France and Spain issued arrest warrants against Lt Gen Nyamwasa for his alleged role in the lead-up to and during the genocide, along with other senior RPF figures that are now in power.

Months after Lt Gen Nyamwasa went into exile, along with another top military officer, Mr. Kagame reshuffled the military leadership. Two other high-ranking officers were also suspended and put under house arrest.

Nonetheless, Lt Gen Nyamwasa is reportedly recovering in hospital after being shot outside his Johannesburg home, and should be able to leave hospital in a few days.

The forthcoming elections will be the second presidential poll held since the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically killed.

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