Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Former Rwandan Army Chief Defects

The French revolutionary George Danton apparently said: Much like Saturn, the revolution devours its children.

In Rwanda, it hasn't been quite as spectacular as in the days of the Jacobins, but it is remarkable nonetheless. Earlier this week, the Rwandan government confirmed that Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa had fled the country and was now faced with an arrest warrant for alleged terrorism, including a recent grenade attack in Kigali that a killed two people.

Lt Gen Nyamwasa, a Tutsi who grew up in southern Uganda, had been one of the most powerful members of the Rwandan army, climbing through the ranks in the Ugandan army before becoming the head of military intelligence and then chief of staff. He was known to be a hardliner. Then, suddenly, in 2001 he was marginalized and sent for military training in the United Kingdom. There were rumors of an attempted palace coup, of him being upset over the way President Kagame was running the country. Soon after his training program, he was sent as ambassador to India, allegedly to keep him out of trouble.

And now the Rwandan government is accusing him of terrorism and even complicity with the FDLR. They claim he has joined Colonel Patrick Karegeya - the former head of external intelligence - in South Africa. Who knows what to make of the allegations, but what is certain is that the RPF has much more to worry about from within its own ranks than from the weak and divided opposition parties.

I do not have an exhaustive list, but there are around 50 high ranking RPF members who have defected since they came to power in 1994. "Opportunists," Kagame has called them, people who were not fit to serve their country. Perhaps. But they include two former prime ministers, at least three former ministers (including ministers of defense and foreign affairs), the speaker of parliament, supreme court justices and several ambassadors. Many of the former RPF heavyweights have been moved to the sidelines or have gone into business.

President Kagame is still going strong, and the signs of discontent within the RPF are still outweighed by the prosperity that the party has brought to many of its members. There is no doubt that tensions are running a little bit higher than usual due to the upcoming presidential elections, set for August 9th.

4 comments:

James said...

Jason,

I agree with you on this. Insightful as often.
You forgot to add that Kayumba Nyamwasa is, along with Paul Kagame, arguably the most vicious mass murderer that the Great Lakes region of Africa, if not Africa, has ever known. That two mass murderers get to each other's throat is no surprise! I still maintain though that Kagame's regime is among the worst regimes that Africa would have known, even worse than the Apartheid. Kagame has killed more than 5 millions innocent Congolese + hundreds of thousands of Rwandans. Only Hitler can claim a more sinister record.
I can't wait to see the shame on the face of those, in the West or from the West, who support Kagame, when the truth about and the extend of his crimes are made public.
I just heard that after the grenades attacks of last week, there were more in Kigali this last night.

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