The media fraternity in the east African countries of Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda have condemned the brutal killing of Jean Leonard Rugambage, which took place last Thursday in Rwandese capital Rwanda.
Rugambage was the deputy news editor of the Umuvugizi newspaper in Kigali, Rwanda and he recently wrote a story which implicated the Rwanda government in the shooting and severely wounding of a former Rwansese army commander, Nyamwasa in south Africa where he lives in exile.
Lt Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a critic of Rwanda’s president had been in exile to South Africa from where he has continued his accusation of Mr. Kagame, whom he accuses of corruption. Lt Gen Nyamwasa also claimed the Rwandan judiciary was compromised and that judges were now “President Paul Kagame’s property.”
East Africa journalists forum chairman, Philip Onyago said, “It is unfortunate that our colleague was killed in such a manner. We condemn the killing of Rugambage and call for serious investigation into the murder.”
Onyango said that the forum was started a year ago and so far has registered over 100 journalists from all over east Africa.
The President of Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), Joshua Kyalimpa has requested “the authorities in Rwanda to probe the murder and bring the suspects to book.”
Reacting among growing condemnation Rwanda government spokeswoman and foreign affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, says a thorough investigation into the killing to find the culprit has been requested. “The government of Rwanda might have its disagreements with journalists, like other governments, but we do not kill them,” she is quoted as saying by Reuters.
In Tanzania, however, Robert Kirongo, reminded the international community over the fact that “the killing of Rugambage shows that journalists in Rwanda and east Africa in general are working in unsafe conditions. Our lives are threatened.”
Human rights groups have said that security in the Eastern African country is deteriorating rapidly as the government seeks to muzzle dissent and lash out at its critics ahead of the polls. “The security situation is rapidly deteriorating,” said Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “With only 45 days left before the election, the government is lashing out to silence its opponents and critics.”
Some journalists also say that the killing of the journalist was orchestrated to favour some elements ahead of the country’s elections, and have urged governments in East Africa to safeguard the security of journalists.
The murder of Rugambage and the earlier assassination attempt on Nyamwasa come only a few weeks before Rwanda’s elections, and President Kagame’s critics have raised concerns about the rise in authoritarian tendencies as well as the harassment of opposition elements.