Friday, April 30, 2010

Rwandan president named in wrongful-death suit in Oklahoma City federal court

April 30, 2010

Rwandan President Paul Kagame takes part in a news event at the Urugwiro Village in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday April 21, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick).

A Lawton attorney on Thursday filed a $350 million wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the president of Rwanda, who gave a commencement speech today at Oklahoma Christian University.

The attorney, John Zelbst, filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court against President Paul Kagame and other Rwandan officials.

Zelbst and two other attorneys are representing the widows of two assassinated African presidents. The widows allege Kagame, then leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, ordered the presidents' deaths in 1994.They also allege his army's actions brought about the mass civilian massacre known as the Rwandan Genocide.

Juvenal Habyarimana, the president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of Burundi, were on a jet that was hit by surface-to-air missiles on April 6, 1994. Everyone aboard, including the French flight crew, died.

A French judge in 2006 blamed Kagame for the deaths but said Kagame is immune from prosecution because he is president. The Kagame government has in the past denied the accusation.

The widows do not live in the United States. They argue a federal court in Oklahoma City has jurisdiction over their claims because of Kagame's substantial contacts with Oklahoma Christian University.

"There is no independent functioning judiciary in Rwanda and any suit against defendants there would have been and would still be futile and would result in serious reprisals," the attorneys stated in the lawsuit.

A university spokesman said, “President Kagame is at Oklahoma Christian as the head of Rwanda to honor the 10 outstanding Rwandan Presidential Scholars who are graduating today.

"We do not want to distract from their remarkable accomplishments by getting involved in the politics of Rwanda and surrounding countries. We cannot comment on pending lawsuits.”

Details about the lawsuit filled with the Oklahoma Federal court on April 30, 2010 against President Paul Kagame and his top collaborators can be found at the fallowing link:(

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Rwanda: Community service “inadequate punishment”, say survivors

April 30, 2010

In the TIG program, members work 3 days on then 3 days off. A few are allowed to commute from their homes. Most live in the field where projects are under way. (Photo: Adam Bacher).

Kigali: Sixteen years after the Rwandan genocide, thousands of perpetrators who confessed their roles before the traditional Gacaca Courts have been released and sentenced to community service, but survivors say this is an inadequate punishment.

"The punishment should be [close] to the pain those inmates inflicted," Theodore Simburudali, the chairman of the genocide survivor organization, Ibuka, told IRIN.

He urged the government to do more to stop the killing of genocide survivors in parts of the country.

Ibuka has frequently decried the killing of survivors, most often after testifying against suspects in the courts. Some genocide suspects and convicts, according to the organization, single out the survivors for revenge.

“We need to [implore] Rwandan officials to [see] the seriousness of the issue because genocide survivors are still the targets of those who slaughtered their families, rather than expecting [them] to live in the same community with murderers,” Simburudali added.

At least 106,918 convicts have gone through the programme, referred to as TIG (Travaux d'Intérêt Général), since its inception in 2005, according to the government.

Under Rwandan law certain categories of genocide perpetrators serve part of their prison term in jail with the remainder as community service, in a bid to decongest the prisons and foster reconciliation, say government officials.

"This punishment allows the [perpetrators] to acquire new professional skills that will help facilitate their reintegration into society, as well as to turn them into good citizens," Evariste Bizimana, TIG executive coordinator, told IRIN. "They [the TIG inmates] have been able to learn vocational skills, while building several houses for vulnerable people, many of whom are genocide survivors.”

Under TIG, inmates build houses for vulnerable groups, and community infrastructure such as roads, and are also involved in agricultural activities.

Judges at a Gacaca court (file photo).

"This programme is part of a reconciliation process as we need to educate those killers who confess their crimes [in order] to live side-by-side with genocide survivors," Bizimana added. “[They] must understand that this is a punishment, not merely a transit camp to be reintegrated into society."

Those sentenced to community service are housed in camps around the country and are not remunerated. Many now show remorse.

Thaddeo Munyansanga, a Hutu who was working in a Tutsi household before 1994 said: "When the killing started, I was told by the [Interahamwe] militia that I would end up owning all my former boss’s belongings.”

Munyansanga’s house was located a short distance from his former boss’s widow, Philomène Uwinyange, in Kibirizi village in the south.

"I regret all that I did, I now hope that Uwinyange will accept my apologies," Munyansanga told IRIN. “I don't want to push her any further to forgive me. It is a matter of time, considering the seriousness of our [actions]."

Uwinyange, 56, takes care of three adopted children – her children were killed in the genocide. “We have no choice [but to] reconcile with those who killed our relatives. What [else] can we do?" she said.

According to Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama, community service is not intended to trivialize the seriousness of the crimes.

“We are trying to foster reconciliation among killers and victims," Karugarama told IRIN. “What is most important is to ensure a follow-up as some of these people still harbour genocide ideology upon returning back to their villages.”

Michael Kanimba, a 21-year-old student in Kigali, whose father was recently sentenced to two years of community service, supported the idea of community service. "Those convicts are slowly turned into responsible citizens to [enable them to] live side by side with genocide survivors,” he said.

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Rwanda: FDLR suspects denied bail "to prevent return to Congo"

By Rwanda News Agency
Friday, 30 April 2010

Kigali: The two ex-FDLR rebel officers whom the state alleges where collaborating with opposition politcians Ingabire Victoire and Paul Rusesabagina will stay in jail up to when the case starts, court ruled Friday.

Judge Mbishibishi Morris of the Gasabo Intermediate Court concurred with prosecution that Lt. Col Noël Habiyaremye and Lt. Col Tharcisse Mbiturende are dangerous criminals that cannot be allowed to move freely.

The two will be remanded for 30 days as investigations are completed – ready for the start of the trail of the accused. Court finds it necessary to keep the accused in detention "lest they return to the forests of the (DR) Congo or impede the course of justice," said the Judge.
Judge Mbishibishi however said they have 15 days to appeal against the verdict.

The state alleges that two have been working with Ms. Ingabire – the FDU-Inkingi chief and Mr. Rusesabagina, the man behind the Hollywood movie “Hotel Rwanda” to oust an elected government. The ex-FDLR rebels were finalizing details of launching rebel groups for the two politicians, according to state prosecutor, Mr. Richard Muhumuza.

Ms. Ingabire herself is out on bail on charges of ethnic divisionism, negating the Tutsi Genocide and links to a terrorist group. Prosecution has linked the two officers to her as “accomplices”.

It was not clear if the defense of the officers will appeal the verdict.

However, the fate of Lt. Jean Marie Karuta, the third alleged accomplice is not known so far.

The accused were transferred immediately to the maximum security prison – known here as ‘1930’.

Rwanda: Ingabire co-accused arraigned in court

By Edmund MugireThe News Times-Rwanda
April 30, 2010

IN THE DOCK: Lt. Colonels Tharcise Nditurende (L) and Noel Habiyambere outside Gasabo court yesterday. (Photo: J. Mbanda).

KIGALI - TWO suspects accused alongside Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, for planning activities aimed at causing state insecurity, were yesterday arraigned before a judge at Gasabo Intermediate Court.

Lt. Col Tharcisse Nditurende and Lt. Col Noel Habiyambere, who were senior commanders of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), admitted having worked with Ingabire and Paul Rusesabagina to form rebel groups to launch offensives in thecountry.

Appearing before Judge Maurice Mbishibishi and flanked by their lawyers , the two Ex-FAR soldiers who were members of ALIR and later FOCA, the armed section of FDLR, did not waste the courts time and admitted the charges prosecution brought against them.

“My Lord, save for a few facts, most of what the Prosecutor has said here is true, I don’t deny anything and I will readily cooperate in this case,” Nditurende, dressed in a black T-shirt and stripped trousers, told the court after the Prosecutor Richard Muhumuza had presented his case.

In a twist of events, the duo not only admitted having met Ingabire , on several occasions, but also stayed in touch with Rusesabagina before they were arrested by Burundian authorities and effectively extradited to Rwanda.

Nditurende and Habiyambere revealed how prior to their arrest, they were mobilising FDLR fighters to quit and join Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi/CDF and Rusesabagina’s PDR-Ihumure.

Nditurende in particular admitted having travelled to Kinshasa from Goma in September 2008 with a one Dieudonne Muhindo-Muhima to meet Ingabire and again met her in Congo Brazzaville to carry on with the plans to start the armed group.

According to prosecution, the Kinshasa meeting came after exchanging a number of emails and phone calls with Ingabire and receiving money to facilitate their trips between Goma and Kinshasa as well as money to sustain them during the course of the meetings.

They also revealed that Ingabire and the Secretary General of FDU Inkingi, Jean Baptiste Mberabahizi, had met Nditurende’s representative Lt. Karuta Jean Marie in Kinshasa where they discussed and drew a list of what was needed to start the armed group.

Habiyambere, who had since quit FDLR and was working with Rusesabagina, informed the latter of Ingabire and Nditurende’s plans, and Rusesabagina recommended that the two former FDLR colonels join hands to form a much bigger group.

“I was working with Rusesabagina, but at the time, I did not know that they were planning terrorist activities. The difficult conditions I was living in the jungles of DRC led me to work with them, I therefore beg for mercy,” Habiyambere told the court.

Ingabire and Rusesabagina continued to send money to DRC through Western Union to help them in their activities and also sustain them in the jungles of North Kivu as well as help them to acquire guns and ammunition.

Using Congolese documents, Nditurende passed though Goma Airport to Nairobi then Dar es Salaam where he connected with Habiyambere and then to Kigoma, from where travelled by road to Bujumbura.

The duo met a senior Burundi military officer, General Adolph Nshimiyimana, seeking his help, but he turned them down, telling them that they had no chance.

While in Bujumbura, the duo received money from Ingabire and Rusesabagina through a Burundian Bank. However, Burundian authorities swung into action and arrested them and handed them over to Rwanda.

The representatives of the duo applied for bail since they had willingly admitting to the charges and were ready to cooperate with court, but the prosecution objected, arguing that the charges were serious and that they should remain in detention in the course of the trial.

Court will decide today.

Washington Could Learn a Few Things From Rwanda

Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
April 30, 2010

By Nancy Fowler
Noblesville, Ind.

Anne Jolis's "The Weekend Interview with Paul Kagame: A Supply-Sider in East Africa" (April 24), is a breath of fresh air in the pervading atmosphere that without government aid, the poor are lost. Just think, an East African country self-sufficient in food and actually exporting some crops! I think it is remarkable that Rwanda's President Paul Kagame's focus is not on begging for charity but on creating wealth through free markets and recognizing what prolonged aid has done to create dependency in his country. In a stunning recognition of personal responsibility, rare these days, he claims, "We can only have ourselves to blame for our failures."

The liberal left in this country apparently doesn't want to see that we've done the same thing to those who have made welfare a way of life for themselves and their descendents, and have created a dependency on government aid. If they were to admit that, they wouldn't have a loyal group to depend on to support whatever and whomever they propose, and so of course they are forever on the lookout to enlist more dependents for more votes.

By Linda Whetstone
International Policy Network
Hartfield, Sussex, U.K.

Economic reforms taken by President Kagame rightfully have attracted positive attention from the media and an array of outside supporters. These economic policies—unlike those of most other African governments—are the best way to enable Rwanda's people to lift themselves from poverty.

Yet his supporters seem far too willing to overlook or forgive his views on free speech and the freedom of the press. From first-hand experience, I know that President Kagame goes far further than "Europe's laws against Holocaust denial," practicing a policy of zero tolerance toward any journalist who criticizes him. If Gordon Brown emulated this policy, few journalists would remain in the U.K. right now.

Mr. Kagame's record on political freedom also looks increasingly weak at the moment. Who of us would feel our democratic system to be in good working order if our political leader was facing no opposition in an upcoming election after being in power for seven years, because he had momentarily imprisoned the only potential opposition, in order to stop them from registering their party in the approaching elections?

President Kagame works very hard at his PR, but surely freedom is not divisible. Those of us who believe in its creative power should give credit where credit is due, but also express constructive criticism or condemnation where freedom is seriously threatened or indeed extinguished.
By Clay G. Wescott
Asia Pacific Governance Institute

The interview with President Kagame correctly highlights his leadership skills. However, his statistics need to be interpreted with care. He points out that Rwanda has cut its dependence on aid by half in the last 15 years. That is true as measured by aid per capita. However, the large percentage cut was possible because Rwandan aid in 1995 was so high. Current Rwandan aid levels are still high compared to its neighbors.

Aid per capita in Rwanda is $79, compared with $68 in Tanzania, $56 in Uganda and $34 in Kenya, based on the most recent available data for 2007.

Rwanda: Two ex-FDLR militants arraigned in Gasabo court, admit complicity with Victoire Ingabire

By Chief Editor
April, 29, 2010

Lt. Colonels Tharcise Nditurende (L) and Noel Habiyambere (R) outside Gasabo court on 29 April 2010.

Kigali –
TWO suspects accused for planning activities aimed at causing state insecurity, were arraigned before a judge at Gasabo Intermediate Court on Thursday.

Lt. Col Tharcisse Nditurende and Lt. Col Noel Habiyambere, who were senior commanders of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), admitted having worked with Ingabire and Paul Rusesabagina to form rebel groups to launch offensives in the country.

Victoire Ingabire is one of the founders of the opposition party FDU-Inkingi and is fighting to make of a constitutional state where international democratic standards are respected. She is ready to challenge the General Kagame during the August presidential elections but the Kagame regime stubbornly bars her from exercising her political rights. This court trial is part of the process used by the Rwanda government to break her and neutralize her since her return to Rwanda early this year.

Paul Rusesabagina is the real life hero of the acclaimed film “Hotel Rwanda”. Rusesabagina, portrayed by Don Cheadle in the film, saved the lives of more than 1200 people during the Rwandan genocide and has been honored internationally for his heroism. He later founded the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF) which works to prevent future genocides and raise awareness of the need for a new truth and reconciliation process in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Appearing before Judge Maurice Mbishibishi and flanked by their lawyers, the two Ex-FAR soldiers who were members of ALIR and later FOCA, the armed section of FDLR, did not waste the court’s time and admitted the charges prosecution brought against them.

“My Lord, save for a few facts, most of what the Prosecutor has said here is true, I don’t deny anything and I will readily cooperate in this case,” Nditurende, dressed in a black T-shirt and stripped trousers, told the court after the Prosecutor Richard Muhumuza had presented his case.

In a twist of events, the duo not only admitted having met Ingabire , on several occasions, but also stayed in touch with Rusesabagina before they were arrested by Burundian authorities and effectively extradited to Rwanda.

Nditurende and Habiyambere revealed how prior to their arrest, they were mobilising FDLR fighters to quit and join Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi/CDF and Rusesabagina’s PDR-Ihumure.

Nditurende in particular admitted having travelled to Kinshasa from Goma in September 2008 with a person named Dieudonne Muhindo-Muhima to meet Ingabire and again met her in Congo Brazzaville to carry on with the plans to start the armed group.

According to prosecution, the Kinshasa meeting came after exchanging a number of emails and phone calls with Ingabire and receiving money to facilitate their trips between Goma and Kinshasa as well as money to sustain them during the course of the meetings.

They also revealed that Ingabire and the Secretary General of FDU Inkingi, Jean Baptiste Mberabahizi, had met Nditurende’s representative Lt. Jean Marie Karuta in Kinshasa where they discussed and drew a list of what was needed to start the armed group.

Habiyambere, who had since quit FDLR and was working with Rusesabagina, informed the latter of Ingabire and Nditurende’s plans, and Rusesabagina recommended that the two former FDLR colonels join hands to form a much bigger group.

“I was working with Rusesabagina, but at the time, I did not know that they were planning terrorist activities. The difficult conditions I was living in in the jungles of DRC led me to work with them, I therefore beg for mercy,” Habiyambere told the court.

Ingabire and Rusesabagina continued to send money to DRC through Western Union to help them in their activities and also sustain them in the jungles of North Kivu as well as help them to acquire guns and ammunition.

Using Congolese documents, Nditurende passed though Goma Airport to Nairobi then Dar-es-Salaam where he connected with Habiyambere and then to Kigoma, from where travelled by road to Bujumbura.

The duo met a senior Burundi military officer, General Adolph Nshimiyimana, seeking his help, but he turned them down, telling them that they had no chance.

While in Bujumbura, the duo received money from Ingabire and Rusesabagina through a Burundian Bank. However, Burundian authorities swung into action and arrested them and handed them over to Rwanda.

The representatives of the duo applied for bail since they had willingly admitting to the charges and were ready to cooperate with the court, but the prosecution objected, arguing that the charges were serious and that they should remain in detention in the course of the trial.

Court will rule on Friday as to whether the accused should be granted a 30-day bail.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rwanda: Opposition leader must receive fair trial

April 29, 2010

Amnesty International urges the Rwandan Government to ensure that opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, receives a swift, fair trial on charges including genocide ideology and collaboration with a "terrorist" group, and is not punished for the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression.

Victoire Ingabire, President of the United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi), who plans to stand in presidential elections in August 2010 was arrested on 21 April 2010 after being summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, the previous day. This was her sixth summons by the police this year.

"We have documented a number of incidents of intimidation and harassment of opposition groups in Rwanda in recent months," said Erwin van der Borght, Africa programme director at Amnesty International.

"Now with the arrest of a potential presidential candidate a few months ahead of the election, we call on the government to demonstrate that this is not another such case".

Ingabire, was charged with "genocide ideology" and "minimising the genocide", "divisionism" and "collaboration with a ’terrorist’ group", the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). She appeared before Gasabo Intermediary Court (TGI) on 21 April and pleaded not guilty on all counts.

On 22 April, the court ruled that Ingabire could be released on condition that she not travel outside the capital Kigali while proceedings against her continue.

The Rwandan authorities had already prevented Ingabire from travelling to Europe in March 2010 due to ongoing police investigations.

The "genocide ideology" and "divisionism" charges relate to speeches Ingabire made on her arrival back in Rwanda in January 2010 and in Europe where she spent 16 years in exile in the Netherlands and formed FDU-Inkingi. FDU-Inkingi is still seeking registration in Rwanda.

Government officials have over recent months claimed that comments made by Ingabire at the Gisozi Genocide Memorial on 16 January 2010 amount to "genocide denial" and "divisionism" or promoting ethnic division. In her speech, she called for the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Hutu by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), as well as commemoration of Hutu victims killed during the war.

"The onus will be on the prosecution to prove that there is credible, solid evidence to justify the charges against Ingabire," said Erwin van der Borght. "The prosecutor will have to demonstrate that what she said actually constitutes advocacy of hatred and that they are not punishing her for political dissent."

A Rwandan law promulgated in October 2008 criminalises "genocide ideology" in vague and ambiguous terms which unduly stifle freedom of expression. The Rwandan Government appear to have recognised that aspects of the genocide ideology law may be problematic and, according to Rwanda News Agency, the Cabinet is currently reviewing this law.

Ingabire is also charged with collaboration with a "terrorist" group, the FDLR.

The FDLR, an armed group operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is mainly composed of Rwandan Hutu. It contains remnants of the Interahamwe and former Rwandan soldiers responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as well as fighters not involved in the genocide, including many too young to have participated in the genocide.

Ingabire attended "Inter-Rwandan Dialogue" meetings with pro-FDLR participants while in exile in the Netherlands, but says these meetings included participants from various political and ethnic backgrounds, including representatives of the RPF, the ruling party in Rwanda.

In police interrogations over recent weeks, Ingabire has reportedly been accused of meeting with FDLR officials in DRC and intending to create her own militia group. She has consistently denied such allegations.

"The government must demonstrate that Ingabire herself committed recognizably criminal acts and that this is not a case of guilt by association" said Erwin van der Borght.

Amnesty International urges the Rwandan Government to ensure that Ingabire is tried promptly and in accordance with international fair trial standards.


Amnesty International strongly condemned harassment and intimidation of opposition groups, including the Green Party and the Ideal Social Party, in February 2010.

A member of Ingabire’s party, Joseph Ntawangundi, was severely beaten in a government building on 3 February 2010, as he accompanied Ingabire to collect documents needed for the party’s registration.

Ntawangundi was arrested in February 2010 following revelations that he had been convicted of genocide in absentia by a community tribunal set-up to try cases from the 1994 genocide.

Ntawangundi initially claimed to have been outside Rwanda during the genocide working for an international trade union body, but the organisation confirmed this was untrue. Ntawangundi later confessed to participation in the genocide and in March 2010 was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

A November 2009 UN panel of experts report on DRC found that diaspora members of FDU-Inkingi had been in phone contact with FDLR military leaders, but did not specify the nature of this contact or suggest Ingabire had herself maintained such contact.

Recent months have seen a number of government measures against critics and opponents including restrictions on freedom of expression. On 23 April, Rwandan immigration rejected a work visa re-application by the Rwanda-based researcher for the international human rights group, Human Rights Watch.

On 13 April, the High Media Council (HMC) suspended two Kinyarwanda newspapers known for being critical of the government, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, until after the elections. The HMC alleged that Umuseso had insulted the President and caused trouble in the army that could lead to insubordination.

The 2003 presidential elections and the 2008 legislative elections in Rwanda were marred by intimidation and political opposition activities were severely restricted.

Source: Amnesty International.

Rwanda, investigation on the assasination of president Hayarimana

By Empereur
Last Up dated

We all remember the Rwandan genocide of 1994; however, few of us remember it start with the assasination of president Habyarimana. In this research paper, I will examine and try to answers questions of why, how and who. In history, there are occurrences that exist only to subsequent events, and the miserable history experienced by Rwandans in the year 1990 is one of them. In this year, structural adjustment policy of both World Bank and International Monetary Fund pushed Rwanda to devaluate its franc by two thirds while at the same time the hutu regime had to raise sharply its military expenditure because the Front Patriotique Rwandais was attacking from Uganda. In addition, the traditional agriculture corps could not generate export revenue any more, because the world market price for coffee bean had plunged. Consequently, Rwanda was in a state of bankruptcy, the social basic services worsen, infant mortality increased, malaria, food shortage, drug trafficking and corruption all reappeared subsequently. This was the situation that Rwandans have had to face until 1994, when Habyarimana’s airplane crashed in his presidential garden, the death of the dictator marked the beginning of self-destruction for all Rwandans. I guess it was the moment for local prophesies to become true; the latter with the complicity of hutu extremists programmed the "final solution" for their tutsi compatriots. This vicious enterprise was like a bomb waiting for the detonation, when the two still non identified soldiers (both French and Belgian military secret services believe they are white European or South African mercenaries, but former American Ambassador D. Shinn disagree, with no further comment) lunched two soil-air missiles of model 16 (SAM 16), it engendered the death of about one million Rwandans’ life, and Habyarimana as the one who played with the fire, was burned.

Before the Crash

In my judgment, in order to better understand who has a better interest on the death of president Habyarimana, it is absolutely necessary for me to elucidate first of all on the whole issue of war preparation between the government of Rwanda versus the tutsi rebels. Secondly, on the political situation in Rwanda from the beginning of 1990 to 1994, and pressure from Arusha peace accords on the hutu politicians.

The situation for Habyarimana begun to deteriorate in 1986 when the coffee prices fell, the revenue from coffee dropped from 14 billion to 5 billion Rwanda Franc2. As the economic situation deteriorate, Rwanda accepted the Structural Adjustment package offered by the World Bank and International Monetary Fond, consequently the social living condition determinate dramatically, and tutsis, as minority carried for the blame. However, at the same moment, another event happened. October first 1990, FPR crossed the Rwanda-Uganda border, overpowered the small local detachment, and headed for the capital Kigali. On October 4, the RPF had advanced a considerable distance into Rwanda but was still forty-five miles from Kigali. At this crucial moment, French lunched Operation Noriît and Zairian president Mobutu send his personal presidential guard to stop the advancement of FPR; the latter had to withdraw (I will explain this event in a closer detail in the FPR section). In February 1993, FPR attacked again from the regions of Byumba and Ruhengeri, north of Rwanda, and stopped at Rulindo, about 30 km north of Kigali. At the moment, they proclaimed a cease-fire. In my view, it was for three reasons. First, they did not know if the French and Zairian will intervene for a second time or not. Secondly, because their attack, they were afraid that other tutsis will become target for extremist hutus.

The invasion of tutsi rebels from Uganda had engendered two subsequent issues

I. Military Preparation

The Rwandan military expenditure increased from 1.9% of government budget in 1989 to 7.8% in 1992 3. The army increased in size from 7,000 troops in 1989 to more than 30,000 by 1994 4. According to a Human Right Watch report 5, after having obtained U.S.$6 million worth of arms from Egypt on March 1992, the Rwandan Ministry of Defense took delivery of a further U.S.$5.9 million worth of arms and ammunition from South Africa on October 19, 1992. The March purchase included some 450 Kalashnikov rifles (the report did not show another further data), and the October purchase included 20,000 R-4 rifles. At the time of the March purchase, the Rwandan army also bought two thousand rocket-propelled grenades, which require a significant amount of instruction to use effectively, but no hand grenades; in October they purchased 20,000 hand grenades, which could be used by persons with relatively little training.

II. Emergence of Akazu, the Hutu Extremists

In this war context, Akazu (translate as small house) composed by extremists hutu elite including militaries and bureaucrats form the north-west Rwanda started to organize itself both in terms of political and military force. In terms of politics, although the president Habyarimana was the number one of Akazu, his entourage was tightly controlled by Akazu member under the leadership of his wife, Agathe Habyarimana. The Akazu’s network was known as the "Reseau Zero" or "Zero Network" or "Zero tutsis", the power was so concentrated it was considered as a state within state. In terms of military force, Akazu helped to maintain and train the militiamen including: Reseau Zero, Interhamwes, MRND, CDR.

Time and Events Before the Final Realization of Arusha Accords

Under the terms of Arusha Accords, a transitional government was due to have been install in Rwanda on April 8th, a day after the genocide started. The U.N mission installed in the country was due to leave on April 5th, the day before president Habyarimana’s assassination.

Under Arusha Accords, the most crucial aspect is the military one. The national army will be composed of 19, 000 men. 60% from FAR and 40% from FPR. And officer positions will be shared be 50/50. The post of chief of staff will attribute to FAR, and chief of staff of gendarmerie to FPR.

Il y est prévu que la future armée nationale comptera 19 000 hommes dont les forces gouvernementales fourniront 60% des effectifs et le FPR 40% ; au niveau des postes de commandement toutefois, du bataillon à l’état-major, la proportion sera de 50-50, avec la pratique du principe de l’alternance : les postes de commandant et de commandant en second ne pourront être occupés par la même force. Le poste de chef d’état-major de l’armée est attribué à un membre des FAR et celui de chef d’état-major de la gendarmerie à un militaire du FPR.6

The new army was be composed by 19,000 soldiers and 6,000 national polices; therefore both forces, the Rwandan army with more than 30,000 soldiers beside of police force, and the RPF with some 20,000 rebel troops would have to demobilize at least half their military personnel 7.

Braeckman 8 (1994:189) suggests that on February, 1994, the Belgian Foreign Affaire minister Willy Claes told him: "Il est minuit moins cinq (it is five to midnight)". In March, Defense Minister Leo Delacroix of Belgium repeated "prenez une initiative, prenez la tres vite (take an initiative, take it very quickly)". At the same period, Boutros Boutros Ghali, a long time friend of Habyarimana then Secretary General of the U.N threaten the latter that if Rwanda will not implement the Accords, the U.N will withdrew the U.N peacekeepers and terminate MINUAR( Mission des Nations Unies pour le Rwanda) mission which cost about 750,000 dollar per day.

As far as Rwandan hutu regime was concerned, at the same moment, a political struggle accompanied with assassinations was going on in Kigali (FPR could be the responsible).

In May 18, 1993 Emmanuel Gapyisi, an important leader of MDR (Mouvement Démocratique Républicain) was assassinated, MDR was the chief threat to the MRND, headed by Habyarimana.

August 23, Fidèle Rwambuka an extremist leader was killed.

In February 21, 1994 minister Félicien Gatabazi from PSD (Parti Social Démocrate) was mysteriously assassinate. PSD was composed mostly by tutsi members. (However, Jean Pierre Mugabe argues that Gatabazi was killed by FPR, order by Kagame himself.)

Two days later the president of CDR (Coalition pour la Défense de la République) Martin Bucyana was killed for revenge. (According to Mugabe, militia of PSD killed Bucyana, and CDR a party even more extreme than MRND attack local innocent tutsis people.)

In March 31, 1994, Alphonse Ingabire, another leader of CDR was assassinated in Kigali.

Rumor in Kigali said that Agathe the president’s wife confounded with him several times and left home. She was furious that Habyarimana was ceding concessions to FPR.

Habyarimana knew that some people want him to disappear, so he changed his traditional habitus. Before he used to drive himself a jeep, now each time when he need to move around, he took the itineraries at the last moment by him self. According to Braeckman 9, she mentions that during this period, a black killing list which contains 1500 hutus and tutsis already been initiated by president’s faction and him self. When Habyarimana went to Des es Salaam, he took with him the major general Deo Nasbimana, and Colonel Elie Sagatwa, they were the chiefs of hutu extremists. For Braeckman the voyage of the hutus military leaders was unnecessary, and it might be interpreted as that Habyarimana want to have some insurance.

Who knows About the Assassination of the President?

In this section I will only demonstrate some interesting facts that I have collected from my readings on the book of Braeckman, Reyntjens, Prunier, French parliament report, Human Watch reports and other Francophone newspapers.


The reason to suspect Mobutu is because in fact the latter had met with the two presidents, Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi at his homeland in Gbadolite, north west of Zaire. Mobutu agreed to go to Tanzania; however, at the last minute, he changed his plan.

According to Braeckman 10, certain testimonies say, at the last moment, Mobutu’s private assistant Mr. Aka, responsible for security tell the latter not to go, and Mobutu called Habyarimana, but he talked only with Agathe, and the Agathe did not transmit the message to her husband. Moreover, the Kenyan president Arap Moi also renounced his personal participation and sent the Vice President George Saitoti at the last minute. (According to J.P Mugabe, Mr. Aka is in fact NGBANDA Honoré ATUMBA, a former advise of Mobutu for security affaires.)

Yet, according to the French parliament report 11, the former French Ambassador M. Jacques Depaigne mentions that, Mobutu’s withdrew was due to a political interest. The latter in fact did not see any political advantage of going.

" l’absence du Maréchal Mobutu au sommet de Dar Es-Salam s’expliquait très bien et que, sur le moment, elle n’avait même pas posé de questions particulières. Le Maréchal ayant convoqué les deux principaux protagonistes, il avait fait, en quelque sorte, son " numéro ", ce qui devait lui suffire. De plus, la qualité de l’accueil qui lui aurait été réservé par ses autres collègues n’était pas suffisamment garantie pour qu’il pense devoir effectuer le déplacement ".

As the result, the mysterious withdrew of Marshall Mobutu could be explained in my view by two simple hypotheses: he knew something very serious was going on; therefore, he withdraw from to participate a regional powerhouses negotiation; however, this theory has few credibility in my judgment, because if Mobutu knew a secret coup was going on, hence firstly of all it was not any more a secret coup and other secret services should know. Or, Mobutu as described by the French Ambassador just did not want to go by personal political interests, because he lacked political credibility and authority.

Hutu Extremists

According to French parliament report, Filip Reyntjens12 in his paperback "Rwanda, Trois Jours Qui Ont Fait Basculer l’Histoire", based upon Belgian military investigation, he argues that during the evening and before the arrival of presidential airplane, eyewitness saw a Jeep (Braeckman argues for two13) at bifurcation between national route and the airport, it is about 200 meters away from the location that the missiles were believed to be fired (I will explain the location of fire in a later section). One hour before the crash FAR and gendarmerie were still guarding the same place. This area called Masaka, inhabited by pro-government hutu people was under controlled, in accordance with Arusha Accords, by the governmental force. Both Belgian authors, Filip Reyntjens and Colette Braeckman, described the jeep as something that I qualify as a technical, and it appeared to contain some tubes of about 1.5 meter long. According to the French parliament report, both Reyntjens and Gerard Prunier14 highlighted that FAR and the gendarmerie reacted very quickly after the crash by establishing barrages around the airport and in Kigali. One barricade was put in place as early as 7:30 in the district of Kimihura inside of Kigali.

The French report highlights another fact 15, the elements of Presidential Guard were found in the tower control. In an interview made with Belgian newspaper Le Citoyen 16(Oct.94), a Burundian pilot who was fleeing over the sector said that the controller in the tower was repeatedly interrogated by soldiers about the presidential Falcon’s progress. Braeckman argues that because Cyprien Ntaryamira decided to take flight with Habyarimana at the last minute, the flight was two hours late with initial time. When the air plain was flying on the air of Kigali, the control tower asked five times to the pilot if the president and his Burundian colleague were on board, the French pilot became furious, at the end and answered, "no one is on board". The reason is because it is professionally incorrect to mention name of passengers. This could means that the controller was in fact forced by the soldiers to repeat this question in order to make sure the airplane carried the president.


Is it FPR committed the assassination? This track becomes much more in favor for different specialists. But did FPR’s leaders know about the travel of president Habyarimana?

First of all, diverse opinions argue that it was not difficult for any one with standard radio equipments to receive radio communications in Kigali. De facto, I have found from my reading that different protagonists including FPR and FAR were listen to each other’s communication, in addition international actors such as French, Belgian and other UN official were doing the same. For example, according to inside FAR’source, during the evening of April 6th, a post of listen located in Gisenyi, and which was listen on the communications of FPR, captured a message which says: "the target is hit". Et the meantime, a Togolais captain Mr. Apedo of MINUAR observed the same message, as he has written in Kagali " RGF Major said they monitored RPF communication which stated " target is hit " 17. Therefore, we should believe that FPR had a possibility to follow closely with the conversations between different hutu officials in the capital. In addition, during that time FPR’s members in Dar es Salaam could inform FPR headquarter at any time about the departure of two hutu presidents, and then follows the flight’s progression by radio.

In terms of military force, in accordance with Arusha Accords, in side of Kigali, 600 tutsi soldiers of FPR camped (according to J.P Mugabe, they were actually 4000). FPR troops before the crash also made suspicious maneuvers, both inside of Kigali campground and in regions under their control.

General Christian Quesnot declared to the French mission that:" certains éléments du bataillon FPR étaient déjà en position de combat à Kigali entre 20 heures 20 et 20 heures 40 ". (Some FPR elements in side of Kigali were already in combat position between 8:20pm and 8:40pm). However, according to French parliament report, the fact is this FPR element did not star the fight in the afternoon of April 7th 18.

Yet, although J.P Mugabe did not specifically mention what happened to this unity, but he argued that Kagame order all troops to attack immediately. L’Unité du Haut Commandement prit immédiatement les dispositions pour le combat et attaqua la nuit même. Toutes les autres unités du FPR passèrent à l’attaque sans autre préavis.

The French Lieutenant-Colonel Gregoire de Saint-Quentin, then Commandant (the first non Rwandan accessed to President Palace’s garden after the crash) outline that, during the evening of April 6th, certain FPR militaries was found inside of Kigali Meridien Hotel, which is located in the north of their camp19.

Filip Reyntjens argues that FPR was ready to establish an operation of significant size. FPR’s infiltration troop in the route to Kigali provisioned materials in Rutongo, a dozen kilometers to Kigali 20.

Other sources argue that FPR did not started its offensive from the north including the zone of Kisaro, Rukomo, Kagitumba and Nyabishongwezi after April 8th but during the morning of April 7th.

In addition the French parliament report citied from APR’s source, that FPR was in alert since April 3rd, and Kagame ordered himself to Colonel Kaka of to prepare offensive attack at the night between 6 and 7th 21.

And finally, J.P. Mugabe suggested that even before 4.6.94, FPR elements in Kigali had already finish their preparative movements, and other FPR forces were as well.

An interesting fact, I have noticed that the Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman was once a pro-tutsi; she was also honored by the new Rwandan regime for her books. Yet, I have notice that in her early paperback "Rwanda, Histoire d’un genocide", she was then greatly convinced on the hutu and French track, but to challenge on the credibility of FPR possibility, maybe it was unconscious but she said something ambiguous. As the former gendarme named Paul Barril (also worked for Agathe Habyarimana in private)of GIGN (Group d’intervention de la gendarmerie national), accused publicly on the responsibility of FPR. Braeckman counter argued in her book 22: several FPR’s ministers including Jacques Bihozagara and Set Sendashonga were in Kigali during the crash… It was a miracle that they saved their lives. Alexis Kanyarengwe and Kagame were in Kampala… Kanyarengwe repeatedly argued that FPR always privileged a political solution and knew, tutsis in side of Rwanda were potential hostages and will pay the price for any offensive attack. From a political aspect, …Arusha accord gives satisfaction to FPR, and we can’t see from what interests FPR would undermine those advantages by an assassination. In my own view, precisely because to cohabit with hutu extremist was not in FPR’s advantage; therefore, FPR used this unique occasion to eliminate all major hutu extremists’ chefs and launch a lightning attack. In addition, Sendashonga was assassinated in Nairobi. I will discuss my theory with a closer attention later in my FPR hypothesis.


Colette Braeckman, as a specialist of Great Lacks region and Belgian national, believes, or used to believe, that the government of French was involved in the assassination, and certain French soldiers, had contributed physical to the crash of aircraft. And the French had speared the word that "Ces’t les Belges" (is the Belgians) did it.

For example, Braeckman 23 mentions in her book that a strange foreigner, very possibly a Frenchman with radio equipment, occupied until the day of crash a room in hotel Diplomats, which is very close to the presidential guard camp, about few dozen meters. She believes this person could use the radio to send message on the air to say Belgian did it.

The FAR soldiers with the Jeep found earlier in Masaka, according to Braeckman could be black French soldiers from DOM TOM, because they hold their beret inversely, in a French style.

She also shows a letter which she received in June 1994 24 from "the chief of militia from Kigali" that says the real killers are two French soldiers of Dami (Department d’assistance militaire a l’instruction) for the service of CDR (a pro-hutu power party). And the other two French military men (former GIGN) who were killed by FAR, because they were helping for FAR to listen telephonic transmissions and perhaps knew too much.

Captain Paul Barril

I think he played a determinant role in the affaire. He was a former gendarme worked in French presidential palace. All the authors that I have cited above believe that he either know the authors, or recruited mercenaries and organized the assassination for the service of Akazu and particularly for Agathe Habyarimana. Paul Barril also went on French television to say that he has the black box of the air plain (however, other argue that it is not a black one but orange). Currently, if I am not mistaken, Mr. Barril is working with Mr. Verges on the lawsuit against Kagame.

Explosion of Airplane

April 6th 1994 at 8:23 pm, at the moment when the air plane begun to land from the eastside of Kigali airport’s runway, the flight was attained by one sol-air missiles and crashed in the very garden of Presidential Palace. According to Braeckman, the first shoot did not touch the airplane, then few second later; the flight was attained by the second shoot. Habyarimana’s daughter Jeanne and Jean Luc and some guards witnessed the crash, and Jean Luc had the reflex to take pictures, which was later showed on Belgian TV and magazine Jeune Afrique.

Victims of explosion includes:

The President of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana

The President of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira

Two Ministers of Burundi, Bernard Ciza and Cyriaque Simbizi

Major General Deogratias Nsabimana, commander of FAR

The major Thaddée Bagaragaza, responsible for military mission

The Colonel Elie Sagatwa, a member of personal secretarial of President Juvénal Habyarimana, chief of military cabinet and president’s brother in law

Juvenal Renzaho, former ambassador (to Germany) and advisor to president

Emmanuel Akingeneye, personal doctor

French crew: Jacky Héraud (pilote) Jean-Pierre Minoberry (copilote) Jean-Michel Perrine (officier mécanicien)

The French crew belonged to a private French company named La SATIF, a small company (PME) crated in 1977, the CEO is named Charles de la Baume. All crewmembers were ex-military men 25. The crewmembers were paid indirectly by he French ministry of Cooperation. According to former French Ambassador to Rwanda, Mr. Georges Martres, the team reported in a regular base to the embassy directly about the movement of President. However, the responsible of DGSE deny that the French intelligent service had never ever asked to the crew any information 26.

Location of missile launch

The majority if not all specialists agree that the missiles were fired from a location called " la ferme ", it is located near the road, which connects the hill of Masaka to the principal road of Kigali-Rwamagana-Kibungo. This was a residential area; a number of pro-government military and bureaucrat people lived here. The location was under control of FAR, but it was accessible by every one, and MINUAR patrolled frequently. According to the French report, some witness saw white men on the Masaka hill during the evening of April 6th. (Gerard Prunier argues they could be the authors of crash, because the missile’s launching requires professionally trained personnel. And if they are mercenaries, Prunier thinks they must be under order of Akazu.) Last remark, Masaka is only about 50kms away from Burundian border.

J.P Mugabe telled approximately the same story, except that the area of fire was suggested by his close friend, Colonel LIZINDE Théoneste. Eliminate by Kagame latter.

The Hours Followed the Crash

Belgian Blue Helmets of MINUAR were immobilized by FAR in side of the airport’s parking.

The lights of airport’s runway were totally shouted down.

Ten hours later, the killing begun in side of Kigali, furious Presidential Guards followed a black list executed well known tutsis elite and hutu opposition members, including former premiere minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and ten Belgian peacekeepers who supposedly to protect her (a long story), the president of supreme court, the future members of transitional government, political dissident, and journalists 27. According to French mission, FAR soldiers, mostly para-commando from Kanombe camp (about two kilometers away from "la ferme") begun the killing in the zone of Masaka hill as early as the evening. It could be viewed an act of to eliminate witnesses or reprisals. Within three days, more than 3000 people were eliminated in the area of Masaka by Presidential Guard came from Kanombe camp, in side of Kigali.
In side of Kigali, according to UN responsible René Degni-Segui 28, "Barricades had been established between thirty and forty five minutes after crash, and even before the news had announced by the national radio."

According to Reyntjens’ book, during the evening of April 6th, military and gendarmes brought politicians and ministers linked with president to Presidential Guard’s camp in order to protect them from FPR’s possible attack.

Belgian soldiers belonged to UN, were immediately being accused to be the responsible for the crash by different protagonists, including French and Rwandan reside in Belgium.

President’s family members and dignitaries of regime took refuge in foreign embassies (mostly in French embassy) in the morning of April 7th. Different sources also argue that Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, one of the most suspected men, was also in a state of shock.

From a political point of view, Reyntjens believes that the new government, composed by Habyarimana faction in side of French embassy begun to control the situation only in April 8th.

Author, Missile, and Purpose?

The missiles that crashed the Falcon were, according to most specialists today, SAM-16 "Gimlet". Officially, ten nations, before 1995 retain such arm equipment. Angola, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Iraq, Nicaragua, North Korea, Poland, former Tchecoslovaquia and ex-Soviet Union 29.

Filip Reyntjens’s book " Rwanda : les trois jours qui ont fait basculer l’histoire " 30 demonstrates, based upon a story from Mr. Munyasesa, an ex-FAR officer in exile, pictures of two launchers and its’ serial numbers. One of them, in accordance with pictures belongs to Ugandan stock.

French Ministry of Defense disposes also pictures of only one missile launcher, taken in 6 and 7 April 1994 in Rwanda. According to the French parliament investigation, its serial number match up with the one provided by Reyntiens 31.

However, after specialists’ examination, conducted by the French mission based on the photography, they conclude the launcher has never been used.

The serial number of launcher is 9m322, appeared to correspond to SAM-16 "Igla" of Russian model.

The problem is that if after expertise, the French Ministry of Defense concludes that the launcher has never been used, hence, the one that provided by Reyntjens was not the one that had shout down the airplane! Although, it could be Ugandan missiles, but we should not automatically accuse FPR as the author, because FAR had captured some of those Ugandan missiles from FPR, and according to experts, to use this kind of missile, which is guided by laser is not difficult to learn.

The U.S Interest On the Death of Habyarimana

I have tried very hard to understand way the U.S, under Clinton administration has providing substantial help to new Rwandan FPR regime, and at the mean time American officials repeatedly argue that the U.S has absolutely no interest on this small country, overpopulated with no resource. I my view, if the African policy of the U.S is first of all, truly dominate by economic interests and secondly dominated with this obsession again the Islamite regime of Sudan, then in this case, Rwanda, as a small but well infrastructured (has 7 airports) state with a ideal geographic position could attract the gourmandize of the U.S.

Former French Minister Vedrine and American specialist on African Affaires Cohen demonstrate the following statement on the U.S strategic interest on Rwanda. However, the recent publication of National Post, a young Canadian newspaper contradicts their argument. Asked by the French parliament mission on the relationship between France and the U.S in regard of Rwanda, Vedrine replies "the issue of Rwanda never was a central element between both states and both governments have different priorities. Americans has attention on Sudan, which they perceive as the niche of terrorism. That way the U.S is backing Uganda and then FPR.

As far as Herman Cohen is concerned, he was astonished by the theory of an Anglo-Saxon complot against the French interest, he argues, it corresponds to no fact. If the U.S would take any action against French interest in Africa, we (the U.S) would not begin with Rwanda, for, it is a country of little importance. In addition, the U.S always recognizes the " pré carré français " in Africa as a positive element, which was not in the contrary with the U.S interests 32.

According to the testimony of Jean Pierre Mugabe, the reason that Washington did not react vis-à-vis of genocide in 1994, was because Kagame send two massagers named Dusaidi and Muligande, and lobbied the U.S government not to intervene.

Comment KAGAME expliquerait-il au peuple rwandais pourquoi il a envoyé Claude DUSAIDI et Charles MULIGANDE à New York et à Washington pour empêcher une intervention militaire, quelle qu’elle soit, qui serait envoyée pour sauver du génocide le peuple rwandais? Le prétexte de cette opposition était que le FPR se suffisait pour arrêter le génocide qui, pourtant, continua à faire ses ravages pendant plus de trois mois.

National Post: who could be this "foreign government"?

On Wednesday, March 01, 2000, this Canadian newspaper published an controversial article, written by Steven Edwards, which argues based upon three tutsi informants’ revelation to the United Nations, that they were part of an elite strike team that assassinated the hutu president. According to the newspaper, the informants told UN investigators in 1997 that the killing of president Habyarimana was carried out "with the assistance of a foreign government 33" under the overall command of Paul Kagame. Who is this foreign government? The U.N report did not mention, because "the investigation was shut down before the identity of the foreign government could be uncovered." Nevertheless, if this mysterious "foreign government" does exists, and if it is not the U.S, then we must not exclude the existence of this unknown country (I will discuss this controversial article in the section of FPR).

French and French’s Iraqi missiles

Professor Filip Reyntjens established a theory that argues the two SAM-16 " provenaient d’un lot saisi en février 1991 par l’armée française en Irak et acheminé en France " (came from a stock gain by French army in Iraq in February 1991, and transported to France) 34. But he also highlights that he does not have sufficient prove, and the information is actually from he says, British, American and Belgian military secret services. In order to clarify the hypothesis, he ask then, if France did actually gain these SAM-16 from Iraqis? If so, what are their serial numbers? And do the Missiles fired from the hill belong to this French collection? If those two missiles are Iraqi origin, then FPR had also a chance to use it because FPR purchased previously weapon from Iraq.

Author: two Frenchmen under hutu extremists command

It is very confusing and difficult to establish that the authors were indeed two white males, and they are French nationals. Specialists argue that they could be whites because to manipulate a missile launcher, a certain skill is needed. Assuming that they are white, but they could be also mercenaries from places such like South Africa. According to the French parliament report, the CIA during the early June 1994 affirmed that two agents of DGSE were the authors of the crash. In exchange, the French service declared that an American company, represented in Central African Republic with help from Belgians recruited some mercenaries specialized in the missiles utilization 35.

Reason: In my opinion, the governments of both France and Belgium alike, they have no reason to eliminate Habyarimana who they were as a matter of fact protecting. For France, Habyarimana represented her interests against the FPR, viewed by president Mitterrand as an Anglo-invasion. In addition, the three crew member of airplane were French national, I don’t know if the French secret service would have the courage to kill two African presidents with three former French military men. In my own view, I truthfully believe that the son of president Mitterrand, Jean Christophe, had influenced definitively on president’s decision-making. I have heard once in Paris, from a friend originate of Madagascar that J. C Mitterrand is an old African hand. He used to traffic diamonds in Africa, and when F. Mitterrand came to power, all his African connection was established through J.C. Mitterrand. As far as the personal attachment between Mitterrands and Habyarimanas, I have two examples to support the theory that Mitterand did not order to remove Habyarimana.

For example, according to Reyntjens (1995:30) 36, both J. C Mitterrand and Jean Pierre Habyarimana were found guilty of drug trafficking in Rwanda, but either was sentenced.

According to former minister of cooperation, Bernard Debré, Mitterrand at first remained "very attached to former President Habyarimana and his family, and to everything that was part of the old regime" (Quoted on Radio France Internationale. 37). This attachment took the concrete form of a gift of some U.S.$40,000 to Madame Habyarimana at the time of her arrival in France, a sum that was designated as "urgent assistance for Rwandan refugees" and was taken from the budget of the Ministry of Cooperation 38.

Nevertheless, Mitterrand was a good man in terms of human nature, but immoral as a politician, hence he could do every thing unpredictable in terms of politics. He was a very ill and marginalized by the out side world man, if he really had an obsession against Anglo influence and perceived the concession made by Habyarimana undermined the interest of "France", he could thus order to eliminate the latter because Mitterrand knew he was going to die himself very soon any way.


Two Belgian news reporters affirmed in September and October 1995, based upon documents from Belgian military secret service dated in April 1994, that Mobutu commanded the crash.

Missile: The two missiles were brought from France, transported via airport of Ostende, Kinshasa, Goma and Gisenyi, from Zairian embassy in Brussels to Kigali.

Author: The authors of bombing were a Belgian mixed, a French and a Rwandan.

Reason: Unknown.

FAR and hutu extremists


According to the report made by Human Rights Watch, FAR had sol-air missile capacity; however, the report only mentioned SAM-7 and Mistral.

In addition, FAR had captured missiles from FPR during combat in February 1991.

Reason: Why the extremists hutus want to kill the president? We could argue that for the extremists hutu and members of Akazu, the president become much more vulnerable vis-à-vis of FPR. Habyarimana was determinate to establish a new government in accordance with Arusha Accords (he knew he will win the election, because of the hutu majority), but Akazu didn’t want to have any members of FPR in their government and army, and beside Akazu was planning to eliminate all tutsis, so either Akazu used quickly trained FAR soldiers or mercenaries to carry out the assassination (Former French Ambassador Georges Martres observed that the extremist hutus had already difficulties to use canon and mortar, which means they used foreign assistance).

Why they did not kill the president before April 6th ?

In my view, the decision made by president Habyarimana in Dar es Salaam, to exclude the extremist party-CDR from the transitional government, this could be considered by the latter as a final signal, and they had to take very quick the ultimate decision why explains that way any political clan including Akazu could not present a new government after the crash. This is perhaps also explains that why Mr. Herman Cohen is so convinced that Agathe Habyarimana authored the assassination.

However, we can also argue against extremist theory with the same information: if the Jeep located in the bifurcation of Masaka hill is the one that was waiting for the arrival of airplane, and then execute the missile launch, why they have to expose them self publicly during a whole day? Beside, the tube carried by the Jeep could also be bazookas, or any thing else. If the members of Akazu committed the crash, why they also killed their chiefs? Why after the crash it was difficult for Akazu to organize a provisional government? Worth, members of Akazu clan including president’s wife took refuge in French embassy. Different sources also argue that Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, one of the most suspected men, was also in a state of incapacity. And finally to contradict the theory of Cohen, according to former French minister of Cooperation Mr. Hubert Vedrine, " la veuve du Président Juvénal Habyarimana semblait totalement désemparée" (the widow of president seemed totally disoriented).

The theory of hutu extremist was the dominant theory for a long while. In my opinion, if a certain number of unknown people would like to kill, not only the president, but also the supreme chefs of hutu extremists such as the Colonel Elie Sagatwa, then to blow up the airplane and take over the government during a short moment of notional chaos, this is a wise act. Otherwise, in my opinion, you don’t need to eliminate 12 men including extremists’ leaders, because you want the death of president. From this aspect, the hutu hypothesis could not be viewed first of all persuasive and secondly a clever act.

However, to back the hutu theory, we may argue that Caesar was killed by his son! Hutu extremists, in order to secure their own interest, according to the Arusha accord, about 50% per cent of FAR officers will be composed by the tutsis soldiers. Therefore, in order to avoid another Burundi drama, it is justifiable to eliminate all people, including the president, the number one of Akazu, and others who are marching shoulder to shoulder with president’s new political direction. For: 1. The army is essential element in a dictatorial regime. 2. According to the legacy, tutsis power will kill hutus and make all of them slave again. Therefore, to kill the president as a means, justifies the end of self-preservation.

I have realized that a lot of specialists agree on the question of why hutu extremists needed to kill the president and his military commanders, if they only want to eliminate the tutsis? According to Ambassador Shinn, this is a very logical way to think. However, he argued, those people (extremist folks) are not often logical people. To end my hutu theory, we have to remember that the hill where the missiles were lunched was under control by the FAR soldiers, even an hour before the assassination of the president, the Jeep was still there! Soon after the airplane crashed, FAR came over and eliminated about 3000 pro-government hutu people in three days. In sum, until other theories or the truth come out, the hutu extremists’ theory will remain as one of the most possible track.

Hypostasis of FPR

I will start by showing some examples of when FPR have had used missiles against FAR, then I will show some interesting events that would support the FPR track. And in the third section I will discuss about the possibility of FPR as author and what is my assumption.

Technically speaking, FPR disposed sol-air missiles and had used them in different occasions previously. In October 3rd 1990, in Matimba, a FAR’s spy airplane was shout down. In October 23rd a helicopter Gazelle in Nyakayaga. In September 10th 1991, a Fokker 27 belonged to SCIBE (Zairian company) was shout down in the area where Rwanda, Zaire and Uganda touches. In February 1993, another FAR’s helicopter in Cyeru was shout down by FPR’s missile.

Missile: The most probable way for FPR to gain SAM 16 is from Uganda. We all know the historical relation between FPR and Museveni’s government.

According to the Filip Reyntjens, it could be originated from Ugandan arm stock. Yet, Mr. Reyntjens also argues that Uganda stock has only SAM-7 not SAM-16 which probable was used in the crash.

According to American Senior Adviser Mr. Herman Cohen, he argues that the missiles could be Soviet fabrication, taken from Iraq by the U.S, gave to Uganda, and the latter gave in its turn to FPR 39.

According to Mugabe, he never said which kind of Missile, yet he suggested that they are from Uganda, and soldiers were send by Kagame to learn to use SAM 7 Strela of Russian fabrication.

I have read other sources that argue: FPR could purchase SAM 16 from other countries such as South Africa or Libya.

Appealing notes from my reading

Professor Reyntjens mentions that eminent FPR sources affirming the latter was the author of assassination. The DMI (Department of Military Intelligence) of FPR confirmed this implication and argued that if the president Habyarimana was not eliminated, the war would never end. One of theses sources affirmed the coup was made by Major Rose Kabuye and Colonel Kayumba, then chief of DMI 40.

We need also to remember that according to spy listen stations of FAR and UN, both of those stations had captured a FAR message which said the "target is hit". And the UN observer, the Togolais Capitan Apedo included this fact in his report date on April 7th 1994 : " RGF Major said they monitored RPF communication which stated " target is hit ".

French mission argues that by the fact that current Rwandan political and military responsible denied to them this missile capability; therefore, the report argues, it could be considered as a sing of culpability. The report then argues, the widow of Seth Sadashonga, told to Kenyan police that the assassination of his husband could be explained by the anxiety of FPR to see the latter testimony to French mission on the question of crash. Sadashonga, was a hutu, then FPR’s minister of interior (failed against Bizimungu to become the new President) was a former ally of Kagame, according to Africa- Confidential "Sadashonga was FPR trusted Interior Minister, but he was also one of few to dare contradict Kagame" 41. The latter was shot dead on May 1998 in Nairobi where he exiled (he was existing from the U.N mission in Nairobi) by two hutus gunmen, for the reason of money sharing according to the murderers (this is the second attempts).

In the French Parliamentary report, it mentions a letter correspondence on February 28 1994 between Captain Ducoin, a former military technical assistant to Rwandan aviation during the early 1990’s, and one presidential Falcon’s pilots. in this letter, it indicates that the crew members felt threaten by the FPR’s SAM-7 since the beginning of 1994, and they were taking technical initiatives.

After Rwandan’s participation in the second Congolese civil war after August 1996, the tutsi community of Kivu, the Banyamulenges, disapproved with this war. So they write publicly to Ugandan president Museveni and vice president Kagame, ask to them if at the moment when they thought about to assassinate the president Kabila, the tragedy of tutsis Rwandan, after the death of Habyarimana did not serve to them as the lesson?

Former FPR Premier Minister Mr. Faustin Twagiramungu tell to French parliament mission that when he was still in office, he suggested during a ministerial meting on a possibility of to organize an investigation on the crash. However, the president and minister of Defense answered to him that it was not a priority for the country. The French mission then comments in the report, Kigali has never exposed any information that the latter retains 42.

Why FPR Would Eliminate the President, and what are the Facts?

In my view, from a military point of view, in the Art of War, Suen Zi argued that the best and most beautiful technique to win a war is not to use force. Because war is cruel, once it starts, it devastates the country. When it is inevitable, you need to make sure that you have more than seventy per cent of possibility to win. In October 1st 1990, the lighting attack of 2500 APR’s soldier was resulted in 1800 death including 3 best FPR commanders as well the leader of movement, Dr. Peter Bayingana, Chris Bunyenyezi and Fred Rwigyema. The FPR arrived as far as in Gabiro, 90 km from Kigali. But in October the 4th 1990, French president François Mitterrand, while officially visiting the King Fahd, decided to intervene 43, his decision was followed later by Mobutu. This was known as operation Noroît, designed officially to protect French and European interests in Rwanda. Subsequently, FPR retried back, and Kagame become the new leader.

In terms of military force, according to foreign military specialists’ opinion, in 1994, FPR was better equipped (from unknown financial source), disciplined and trained than FAR, although the latter received French and Belgian military instructors.

In the year 1994, with the realization of Arusha Accords, from Kagame’s point of view, and assume his ultimate goal was not only to go back to Rwanda, but to gain the power and to preserve the survival of tutsis people. He had only two choices, because it was becoming harder for them, the tutsis exile to stay in Uganda. First option is, as Arusha Accords designed, to go through a democratic process, to participate in the transitional government and then in election. The second choice is to take over the power by force.

As a proverb says, close the door and beat the dog

Although in terms of military force, Arusha Accord designed to divide the control of army fifty-fifty, and FPR will have lots positions in the new transitional government, but in a country where the majority hutu hold from 80% to 85% of population, and with an unpopular reputation, there was a little chance for FPR to stay in the government (we just have to look at the current Rwandan government, where the most hutu officials are gone) and to win any seats in the national and regional assemble. De facto, FPR’s participation in Juliet/September1993’s free election in the demilitarized region of Tampan was a disaster. During this election, all parties including FPR had chance to participate; nevertheless, Habyarimana’s MRND conquered all seats. Moreover, I also think that FPR members could view the return to Rwanda as a trap made by Akazu, only in no out.

Therefore, even though FPR would become a legitimate political force in Rwanda in accordance with Arusha Accords, the movement had no chance to gain any power!

According to the French parliamentary report and Braeckman’s book, that FPR showed more and more reticence in regard of Arusha accords. Caused by the failure of Tampan election, FPR’s alliances with hutu opposition parties became less reliable. In addition, FPR did not demobilize its troops as prescribed by the Accords, but recruited a lot of new forces from the Ugandan army.

I assume Kagame, his sergeants and other leaders of FPR including hutus and tutsis were aware of the political reality. We also need to remember that the FPR as a polity is composed by the leftist (some argue Maoist) militants and Rwandan old bourgeoisie, which do not share strongly on the theory of diplomatic negotiation. If the ultimate goal is to take over the power, thus, the means could not be democratic transition but military force. In addition, as I have mentioned previously, their final return to Rwanda could be considered as a trap cautiously designed by hutu extremists. At the meantime, the final realization of Arusha Accord is coming. Under a circumstance as such, Kagame needed to react, because he knew that if they refuses to return to Rwanda as initially designed, FPR losses its legitimacy and credibility.

My theory

In February 8 1993, FPR violated ceasefire and begun to attack from the area of Byumba and Ruhengeri bordering with Uganda. It was a success; FPR stopped at Rulindo, 30 km north of Kigali. At this moment, French military intervened in accordance with operation Noroît. In February 20th, FPR unilaterally proclaimed ceasefire. The problem that FPR had to face was two simple issues. I. To wait and observe what the French and UN were going to do. II. Gerard Prunier 44 illustrates a dialogue between a young FPR soldier and an old tutsi during this raid on Ruhengeri :" c’est le pouvoir que tu veux ? Tu vas l’avoir. Mais ici, nous allons tous mourir (it is the power that you want? You’ll have it. But here, we are all going to die)." Under such circumstance, in order to minimize the fatalities of civilian lives (tutsis especially), only a lightning attack, within a minimum time could be view as the most useable technique to conquer the country.

A Chinese legend says, a hunter in the forest saw two sleeping tigers, he knew that he does not have the force and possibility to kill them, because if he attacks one, both will weak up and come to get him. So he took a rock and throws it with force on one tiger, this one weak up, and begin to bite the other one. A fight between two tigers starts, the hunter hidden behind the tree watch it and smile. I image that we all know what happen the next: both tiger were so exhausted they died, and the intelligent hunter get them without using any force.

In my assumption, Kagame knew he must to move, yet although he has a strong army, but a direct confutation with FAR is not a solution, he needed to use the division between Rwandan hutu forces, launch a surprise attack, quickly capture Kigali, destroy FAR, and minimize the civilian casualty. However, Kagame was facing not two but three tigers, including an unpredictable foreign force, they are French. In 1990, Mitterrand backed his protégé Habyarimana militarily to counter attack FAR’s intrusion. As I have mentioned before, the situation in 1994’s Kigali was a complicate one, French, Belgian and other UN forces were in place, Akazu and other extremist movements were raising the hostility vis-à-vis of tutsis population, but at the meantime, a strong divergence existed in regard of Arusha Accords among hutu leaders. President Habyarimana for me is the key person; he was not only the head of the state but also the number one of Akazu clan. This leadership holds on the possibility of an open physical confrontation between hutu militias. As far as France and Zaire are concerned, their intervention was purely designed to back Habyarimana. Consequently, if FPR needs urgently to react, the best tactic is to remove Habyarimana. Because if the latter disappears, France has no more reason, at least temporarily to back a headless government. The hutu extremists would experience a period of chaos, and army will lose their leadership. At this moment, logically if FPR launch attacks from locations under their control including Kigali, they will quickly capture Kigali, avoids lethal confrontation towards FAR, and minimized civilian casualty.

National Post Source

As Kagame knew that Habyarimana was going to Dar es Salaam, he decided to eliminate him. So he alerts all his troops in April 3rd, and sends his trusted assassination team, which could possibly be called the "Network", a team of ten FPR officers. However, according to the newspaper 45 Kagame planed to eliminate president Habyarimana on or about March 15, 1994. According to the three tutsis informants, the plan of assassination of April 6th consisted of five localities, two in Kigali and three in the surrounding area of the airport, then, the informants showed to the UN investigators three sites where they claimed to have planted rocket launchers and explained that two had been used to fire surface-to-air missiles at the president's plane. The overall control came from near the airport at Camp Kanombe. From my reading I have noticed that the Camp Kanombe was controlled by FAR’s Para-commandos, it is about two kilometers from Masaka hill and 300-350 meters to presidential garden where the plane crashed. The cause of assassination was because, according to the informants, "the group was not pleased with the slow pace of the talks".

I do not want to get involved on the credibility of this article, however, what is important is the UN report or a three-page internal memorandum. What the National Post claims is that they has obtained a hand-written comments from Michael Hourigan an Australian lawyer, in a confidential United Nations document. And "As is common in intelligence reports, a credibility rating is assigned to the details gathered from the informants. In this case, the rating was "two" (defined as probably true, but untested) on a scale ranging from "one" (true, corroborated) to "four" (cannot be verified)".

De facto, the report exists, According to UN official Mr. Eckhard "The secretariat has now transferred a copy of the memorandum to the tribunal, which will determine whether or not to make it available to lawyers for clients." According to AFP, Jacques Verges, a famous French controversial lawyer is now taking the case for Agathe Habyarimana. Mr. Verges and other Canadian lawyer were asking to the Arusha tribunal to read the UN report. And of cause, their target is Kagame now the president.


As a student, I do not have the means to meet with Kagame, Agathe Habyarimana, or Verges and captain Barril. And to have the access on the UN report or to go to Arusha personally, in fact I have never been in Rwanda. Therefore, with the few information that I have read, I believe it will be to early and not responsible for me to conclude who strike the airplane and for what motivation. In conclusion, I have two issues to rise. I don’t know what is going to be happened later because of this UN report, I am still not sure that if FPR, hutu extremists or France authored or co-authored the crash. But if the future and the peace of Rwanda is glued with it political institution, then I know for certain that the Nation State system is definitely not for her. Perhaps the exiling King should go back to Kigali from Virginia U.S. As far as president Kagame is concerned, I cannot imagine how the Kagame era is going to end, and the daily news come form Kigali, Kinshasa, and Kampala are not compromising for Kagame. Currently, by listen to BBC and RFI broadcastings and reading specialized magazines, I feel that the political dissidence against Kagame is rising among tutsis and hutus and monarchists. Every day, in order to secure the power, Rwandan governmental forces are killing civilians in Rwanda and Congo, but on the other hand, tutsis are being massacred by Mai-Mai, interhamwes, Congolese, ex-FAR and their Burundian counter parts. In my view, I am not so sure that the one who undermines the security of tutsis people is the Rwandan hutus. Perhaps in the future, historians will conclude that, for the reason of self-preservation, the tutsis did the same thing as Romans did to Caesar

Rwanda: La France va enquêter sur la mort de Habyarimana

By Rwanda News Agency
Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Le président Juvénal Habyarimana ( à gauche) s’entretient avec Colonel Elie Sagatwa (à droite).

Kigali : Seize ans après l’attentant qui a coûté la vie à l’ex-président rwandais Juvénal Habyarimana, l'enquête française est relancée. Elle suit deux autres enquêtes : la 1ère est du juge Louis Bruguière, un français, et la 2ème est du juge Jean Mutsinzi, un rwandais.
En France, comme l'a révélé mardi 27 avril le journal français « Le Parisien », le juge Trevidic, qui a repris il y a trois ans l'instruction sur cet attentat à la suite du juge Bruguière, s'entoure de scientifiques pour préparer une visite de terrain, au Rwanda.

Marc Trevidic, qui a demandé la semaine dernière la création d'un comité d'experts qui auront pour mission de reconstituer le crash, s'entoure de spécialistes en balistique, explosifs, aéronautique, ou géométrie. Avec ces cinq experts, le juge parisien compte se rendre à Kigali d'ici un an.

Leur mission : tenter d'établir la trajectoire du Falcon 50 de Juvénal Habyarimana, la nature des projectiles, et l'emplacement présumé des tireurs qui l'ont abattu. Il s'agira en fait de reconstituer le crash afin de rendre un rapport en mars 2011. L'objectif est simple, il faut trancher la controverse sur les auteurs de cet événement.

Une démarche qui intervient après le rapprochement des 2 pays

Deux thèses s'opposent en effet depuis des années. Celle du prédécesseur du juge Trevidic, Jean-Louis Bruguière, qui désignait l'entourage de l'actuel président rwandais Paul Kagame. Une enquête dénoncée par le Rwanda, qui, en 2006, avait du coup rompu ses relations diplomatiques avec la France. Un comité mis en place par le gouvernement rwandais et dirigé par le juge Mutsinzi accusera après (en 2009) les extrémistes hutus d'avoir tiré sur l'avion d'Habyarimana.

Depuis l’arrivée de Nicolas Sarkozy à l’Elysée, entre Paris et Kigali, la réconciliation est en cours comme l’atteste le récente visite du président français au Rwanda. C'est ce qui permet à Marc Trevidic d'envisager une visite au Rwanda.

Dans le même temps, en proposant de mener un travail scientifique, et pour la première fois de terrain, le juge parisien pourrait bien pallier les lacunes maintes fois reprochées à l'enquête Bruguière.

Rwanda: No political crisis ahead of elections – affirms Kigali

By Rwanda News Agency
Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Kigali : Rwanda Tuesday denied there was a political crisis in the run-up to the August presidential election despite the arrest of top military officers and an alleged clampdown on opposition and independent media.

In April, two generals have been arrested on charges of corruption and misuse of office, a presidential aspirant was briefly detained, two local newspapers have been banned and a foreign human rights official has been denied a work permit.

"The recent events, when bundled together, create an element of fear and panic. But, having lived in this country, and looking around these events, I don't see many Rwandans panicking," said government spokeswoman Louise Mushinkiwabo.

"We have no doubt about the reality on the ground. Rwandans are ready to participate in the elections," she told a news conference.

President Paul Kagame is widely expected to secure a second seven-year term in the election after winning 95 percent of the vote in 2003.

Kagame is praised for establishing stability and completely rebuilding the central African nation in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, and for his bold ambition to transform landlocked Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020.

Critics, however, accuse his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front of being intolerant of dissent and say he has increasingly centralized power.

Rwanda suspended two local newspapers for allegedly insulting Kagame, inciting the police and army to insubordination and creating fear among the public, according to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. The watchdog called the move a "thinly disguised attempt at censorship."

Victoire Ingabire, who heads one of Rwanda's emerging opposition parties, has been charged with promoting genocide ideology, ethnic division and collaborating with Rwandan rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, some of whose leaders organized the bloodshed in 1994.

Immigration officials have asked the Rwanda researcher for Human Rights Watch to leave the country, citing anomalies in her visa application -- a step the New York watchdog says is part of a crackdown on freedom of expression.

Mushikiwabo said the country, which has seen 7-8 percent economic growth each year over the past decade, faced challenges in various areas but the government remained transparent and willing to provide explanations about the recent events.

Analysts say discussion of ethnicity is taboo in Rwanda. Since the genocide, the government has tried to forge a strong sense of national identity among its 10 million citizens in an attempt to override Hutu and Tutsi labels.

"It is not forbidden to talk about ethnicity in this country," Mushiliwabo said. "However, ethnicity should not be used to harm or offend a neighbor. No Rwandan should use ethnicity to think they have a special status to create trouble in this country."

Rwanda: Will President Paul Kagame Retire in 2017?

By Rwanda News Agency
Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Kigali: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had promised not to run for a second term. However, she recently changed her mind. In 2002, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya had made a similar promise only to renege on it immediately after his election. Now, Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, has abandoned plans to retire and will run for re-election - after 20 years in power.

Across Africa, there are very few countries where presidents respect term limits - Tanzania, Benin, Mozambique, Botswana, Mali and Ghana are among the few examples. In Namibia, Cameroun, Gabon, Togo, Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, CAR, Zimbabwe, Niger, Mauritania, Djibouti, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Uganda, term limits have been removed. In Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi and Senegal, presidents have tried but failed.

If the anti-term limits trend was limited to a few countries, we would seek the explanation from the character traits of individual presidents. But when the tendency is so widely spread, then it means that the fundamentals of the answer lie in something bigger and structural within our societies and their politics.

Take the example of Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. No president in Africa has ever spoken more grandiloquently against presidential longevity than he has. In 1986, he promised to be in office for only four years. In 1989, he extended this period for five years in order to finish writing a new constitution. In 1996, he promised he was running for only one term. In 2001, he promised he would retire after his second term.

In 2005, Museveni amended the constitution and removed term limits. Now we know he is not only in it for life but even beyond i.e. through his son. Many other African leaders have already begun to build family dynasties - in Togo, DRC and Gabon, family succession has worked. In Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, it is underway.

The case of Sirleaf's betrayal of her promise is more intriguing because she is a female (women have so far not come across as power hungry as men). Further, she does not come from a background of deprivation having had a good international career working with the World Bank. Why did she promise something that she has found so easy to abandon?

To put it broadly, why did Kibaki, Museveni, Nujoma, Zenawi, Idris Debby etc change their mind? What incentives sustain this tendency across Africa? If the problem was one of individual presidents and their immediate praise singers, then we would see an assembly of wider societal forces resisting them. Yet we have seen few caseslike those of Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia. But it seems these were possible because the presidents of these nations had not been in power long enough to develop powerful constituencies with a vested interest in perpetuating their time in office.

Daniel arap Moi in Kenya, Jerry Rawlings in Ghana and Joachim Chisano in Mozambique are the rare examples of presidents who had served for more than 15 years and respected term limits. But close observers say there were limited possibilities for these presidents to succeed in removing term limits and therefore had to retire. Their colleagues like Omar Bongo in Gabon, Gnanssingbe Eyadema in Togo, Paul Biya in Cameroon and Museveni in Uganda removed term limits because they could.

From this perspective therefore, it seems that the longer a president stays in power, the harder it becomes to respect term limits. This is partly because longevity may create many constituencies of hostility, but it also entrenches powerful interests in the body politic. In a 2008 Afro Barometer survey, most Africans said they want term limits. Yet this popular feeling does not find much currency in politics because the powerful can still manipulate electoral politics to remain in power.

The evidence from these countries therefore is a major challenge to Rwanda's Paul Kagame. Like Museveni before him, he has made categorical statements denouncing the removal of term limits. Critics say that when recently asked by Christiane Amanpour on CNN, Kagame seemed to hesitate. There is nothing in Rwanda's social structure, history and politics to stop him from removing term limits if he wished.

I do not know a leader of an insurgent army that captured power as RPF did and left power voluntarily - in Zimbabwe, Uganda, North Korea, Cuba, etc. If Kagame respects term limits and retires in 2017, it will be an act with few precedents, if any. Many in RPF will want him to stay. How can we tell whether he will resist or yield?

I believe Kagame may actually leave power voluntarily like Tanzania's Julius Nyerere because he has a strong interest in his legacy. And if precedent is a guide, his personal role in the history of RPF and Rwanda gives an indication that he will.

When the RPF captured power in 1994, its politburo met to elect a president for the country. Its chairman, Alex Kanyarwengwe, was unanimously rejected. Everyone in the meeting chose Kagame. He refused. Faustine Twagiramungu, then Prime Minister Designate under the Arusha accords led a delegation of all opposition parties to ask him to be president. Kagame still refused.

Interestingly, the Twagiramungu delegation was against the idea of Seth Sendashonga and Pastuer Bizimungu (both Hutu) becoming president. Instead Kagame proposed Bizimungu and as compromise accepted to become vice president and minister of defence. Few people who have fought as Kagame did to capture power can resist the temptation to become president. So Kagame exhibited extraordinary restraint.

One could say that times have changed; in 1994, Kagame had never been president and did not know the pleasures of the office. Now recognised as statesman all over the world for reconstructing Rwanda, he may become convinced that Rwanda's destiny and his are intertwined. If you add the pressure from vested interests, Kagame of 2017 may look at things differently from the one of 1994.

Will Kagame prove the cynics right or wrong? Zenawi in Ethiopia and Sirleaf in Liberia have already fallen on this hurdle. Even those presidents who failed to remove term limits rigged elections for a chosen successor - Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia and Sierra Leone. It is tempting to remove term limits; difficult to restrain oneself fr-om doing so. Put differently, it is very difficult to leave power but good to do so.

Mr. Andrew M. Mwenda is the Publisher of The Independent magazine in Uganda.