Friday, May 23, 2014

Rwanda’s sinister leader ‘is more brutal than Gaddafi’

Kayumba Nyamwasa: ‘Kagame has the characteristics of a serial killer’
Stephane de Sakuitin/Getty Images
By Ruth Maclean
The Times
Johannesburg
May 23, 2014
 

President Kagame is a more brutal dictator than the late Colonel Gaddafi, according to a former top government official who believes that the Rwandan leader is trying to kill him.

Once the darling of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and aid organisations across the world, President Kagame has fallen out of favour in the past year, amid allegations that he has orchestrated the murder of political opponents.

Yesterday, Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former spy chief under President Kagame, watched proceedings in a South African court as the defence team made its closing arguments in a trial of six men charged with conspiracy to murder him. There have been several assassination attempts on his life.

In 2010, the former spy boss claims, he was ordered to apologise to President Kagame for having blocked the arrest of an opposition figure. He refused, and fled the country overnight for South Africa, sending each of his four children to a different country.

Shortly after his arrival in South Africa, the first attempt was made on his life when he was shot in the stomach as he sat in his car. The attacker tried to shoot him again, but his gun jammed.

The alleged mastermind of the operation was a wealthy Rwandan businessman called Pascal Kanyandekwe, who arrived in South Africa in a private aircraft and, according to police, tried to bribe them with $1 million.

The judge presiding over the four-year trial said yesterday that he would deliver a verdict in two months’ time.

There have been subsequent attempts on Mr Nyamwasa’s life; one while he lay in his hospital bed recovering from the first, and the most recent early this year, when five men armed with assault rifles stormed his house.

According to Mr Nyamwasa, the man behind the attempts on his life is Rwanda’s president. “Kagame is a very vengeful person, extremely vindictive, very spiteful, and a high risk-taker,” Mr Nyamwasa said, surrounded by heavily armed police in the courtroom. “He’s a man who never thinks about consequences — the characteristics of a serial killer. He does not deny it.

“He is worse than Gaddafi and Mubarak.”

The Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by members of the Hutu majority in 1994, was sparked by the death of the president, Juvenal Habyarimana, in an aircraft crash. President Kagame has been accused by his enemies of shooting down the plane, but has strongly denied this.

In January, one of his most vocal critics, another former spy chief in Rwanda, Patrick Karegeya, was found strangled in a South African hotel room, where he had been due to meet another opposition figure.

President Kagame has denied involvement in the many unsolved deaths of Rwandan dissidents abroad, but his postscripts to these denials are sinister. “Anyone who betrays our cause or wishes our people ill will fall victim. What remains to be seen is how you fall victim,” he said, two weeks after Mr Karegeya was murdered.

Later, President Kagame said: “Rwanda did not kill this person. But I add that I actually wish Rwanda did it. I really wish it.”

Soon after, British police warned certain Rwandan refugees in the United Kingdom to be on their guard.

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