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

Friday, May 20, 2011

UK police: Rwandan gov threatens to assassinate opposition

The British police informed two members of the Rwandan diaspora that their government may be trying to assassinate them, according to documents seen by various newspapers. The police visited Jonathan Musonera and Rene Mugenzi on May 12, officially informing them with letters. These letters were then apparently shown to various media outlets.

This incident follows a warning to the Rwandan ambassador by the British intelligence that his embassy would have to stop harassing opposition members in England or risk losing $135 million in aid. That warning, according to news reports, referred to other diaspora members.


The British development agency DFID said yesterday that this developments would not affect their aid, which goes primarily toward helping poor people in Rwanda. Still, the incident has become politicized, with expressions of concern from all sides of the political spectrum in the UK.

Several questions arise: Providing the British intelligence service is right about this threat, why would Rwanda jeopardize its good relations with the UK - one of its closest allies and largest donors - over two minor opposition figures? Mugenzi is a UK citizen who has dabbled in opposition politics, but also is active in British politics and a community NGO in London. Musonera is a former officer in the Rwandan army. 

The most plausible explanation seems to be their link to the newly formed Rwandan National Congress (RNC), which is led by President Kagame's former chief of staff, the former head of the army and the head of the external intelligence service.  Just a week before Mugenzi received the letter, he helped organize an RNC meeting in London with the leading members of the party present via Skype link, as well as opposition leaders such as Paul Rusesabagina (of Hotel Rwanda fame). Musonera is one of the founding members of the RNC.

Rwandan High Commissioner Ernest Rwamucyo
Still, it seems bizarre. The RNC has been busy courting the Hutu diaspora opposition - with some success - but is no apparent challenge to the Rwandan government, given their inability to campaign inside the country. This activism in Europe - as well as their alleged links to some armed groups in the eastern Congo - is probably more aimed at convincing leading RPF members and officers in Rwanda that they are well-organized and popular, rather than at posing an electoral or military threat to the RPF ruling party. But an attempted assassination in London would - to my eyes at least - just signal desperation on the part of the RPF, not strength.

The Rwandan government has been associated with assassinations in the past, including of former interior minister Seth Sendashonga in Nairobi in 1998, former vice-president of the supreme court Augustin Cyiza in 2003, as well as an attempt on former army chief of staff Faustin Kayumba in South Africa last year.

13 comments:

Xmass said...

These are coordinated propaganda actions created by RNC-FDU-FDLR coalition to tarnish the Gov of Rwanda’s image in United Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of assumptions here. Interestingly the NYT article referred to the source being one the police "had no reason to doubt" which could be a very low threshold. Do they know the real agenda of Kayumba etc? Lower anyway than the "reliable evidence" in the Indy article. Still remains to be seen whether there is anything real behind this.

Anonymous said...

BBC Newsnight has a poor record on reporting Rwanda but here is their clip (from about 14 mins onwards). Hooray for Malcolm Bruce giving effectively a reply to calls by Ian Birrell on Twitter for all Aid to be cut and to the presenter's comparison of cuts in the Uk to poverty in Rwanda.

http://uk.mc295.mail.yahoo.com/mc/welcome?.gx=1&.tm=1305972464&.rand=e3m2o11t9ne9a#_pg=compose&&.rand=546624597&clean&.jsrand=371861

Jason Stearns said...

I agree we need to withhold judgment on whether the assassination threat is real. But the fact that there have now been two separate reports by MI5 of the threats - one before the royal wedding, the other now - are a cause for concern.

Anonymous said...

Before the royal wedding the Indy were looking for a story. Diplomats invited to the Wedding was a theme e.g. from Middle Eastern countries. The story mentioned then came from an old Umuseso article and was based it seems on the word of one person, Jeanne Umuliisa. She is one of the people interviewed in the Newsnight piece yesterday. So it is a further piece from the same origin. Why would Kigali want to harm 3 insignificant people in London? On the other hand it is well known that ex-RPF people like Gahima, his brother Rudasingwa and Kayumba, along with Rusesabagina and others want to undermine progress in Rwanda and even support armed groups in the DRC.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theproxylake.com/2011/01/uk-rwandan-refugees-warned-of-elimination-plans/

Anonymous said...

RNC propaganda. Expect more of this

Rwandan Youth for Change said...

A simple question that needs to be asked and answered is why some people are still unwilling to believe that Kagame is a brutal leader, despite overwhelming evidence. If, as the UN Mapping report posits, the man is suspected of having committed genocide, would any other crime be too monstrous in his view? Even if we are to argue that the Mapping report is speculative, are we short of examples in which he has ordered the assassination of opponents? Certainly no one would say so. Just within the last one year, there are horrifying reports of assassination. The first one is that of journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage, whose car was sprayed with bullets in the city of Kigali during the day light. Another one is Denis Semadingwa, a protégé of Laurent Nkunda assassinated in the town of Gisenyi. Lastly, the vice president of the green party was found beheaded just months prior to the general elections. In all the cases above, the families put the blame squarely on the Kagame regime.

Anonymous said...

I will not directly comment on the article, but i share this view that the relevance of Mr. Rusesabagina in the rwandan politics is normally exaggerated by the western media, maybe to fit into a certain agenda.

Anonymous said...

These people did not complain to the Police, but it is the Police, acting on information from MI5 who approached them with information about the danger. Some people above suggest that RNC/Kayumba might be influencing MI5!!! Let us wait and see

Anonymous said...

MI 5 has not performed brilliantly in recent years, for instance during the run up to the Iraq war. Hence, a 'warning' from this secret service - in itself a strange thing to do for a secret service, to expose its knowledge and sources via the Metropolitain police - that is not of much value, is it?

Cheers

Rich said...

The irony is almost perfect when you realise that the same who pocketed, enthusiastically, compliments from the UK and all that came with (as generated by various UK services including the MI5)are now voicing their negative appraisal of the very matrix that conceived what they think they are. A lift that brought you up can still bring you down...

Anonymous said...

Reminding the motto of this blog - 'lies take the lift - the truth walks the stairs' - this is an appropriate image. Cheers

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