May 24, 2024

President Kagame was “responsible” for the death, in a 1994 plane crash, of his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana; the Voice of America (VoA) has reported, quoting the Rwandan leader’s former top aide Theogene Rudasingwa.

However, Kigali dismissed the latest allegations raised by Gen. Kagame’s former chief of staff, who has since fallen out of favour, as a gambit by a “mad man” to blackmail the country’s liberation leaders. Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who is also the government Spokesperson, separately told Daily Monitor in an email correspondence that “my government does not comment on non-stories”.

VoA interviewed Mr Rudasingwa for its Kinyarwanda bulletin after he issued a dossier on Saturday in which he wrote that “in July, 1994, Paul Kagame himself, with characteristic callousness and much glee, told me that he was responsible for shooting down the plane”.

The release of the document was timed to coincide with the 26th anniversary of the launch of Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) war, mainly by Rwandan political exiles and refugees then living in Uganda, which brought the country’s present government to power.

Asked why he was making allegations he apparently knew about some 17 years ago only public now, Mr Rudasingwa said: “I have decided to speak out because I want reconciliation and reunion for Rwandans.” “It is not an easy thing…it is a difficult moment and no one can just say these things. I want reunion and reconciliation between Burundi, Rwanda and France,” he said. “We shall work together to see there is peace.”

Daily Monitor could not independently establish the veracity of the allegations being peddled by a former regime insider. His motivations for speaking out now, and only after a dissension, also remain unclear. On April 6, 1994, a Falcon 50 jet returning from Arusha and carrying, among others, Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, was downed at about 8:25pm as it approached Kanombe International Airport in Kigali to land, sparking off the Rwanda genocide.

The official version by Gen. Kagame’s government is that some extremist elements in late Habyarimana’s government that allegedly masterminded the 1994 killings to deliberately target and eliminate the minority Tutsis, shot down the aircraft.
Anywhere between 800, 000 to one million Rwandans died during the bloodletting.

President Museveni’s government is understood to have sent some of its soldiers to fight alongside RPF troops and reportedly offered arms and training as well as a rearguard in Mbarara from where injured fighters were treated. Many of the RPF fighters and commanders, including Gen. Kagame and late Fred Rwigema, had fought in the 1981-86 NRA war and were in senior positions in the Ugandan military by the time they left to start the Rwanda liberation war.

On August 4, 1993, late Habyarimana’s government and the RPF signed the Arusha Peace Agreement that required. Commitment to principles of the rule of law, democracy, national unity, pluralism, the respect of fundamental freedoms and the rights of the individual.

It further provided for power-sharing, formation of a single national army and a new national police from forces of the two warring parties; and a definitive solution to the problem of Rwandan refugees. In the Saturday dossier, Mr Rudasingwa said “Kagame feared the letter and spirit” of the Arusha Peace Agreement.

He wrote: “As the subsequent turn of events has now shown, Kagame does not believe in the unity of Rwandans, democracy, respect of human rights and other fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, power sharing, integrated and accountable security institutions with a national character, and resolving the problem of refugees once and for all. That is what is lacking in Rwanda today [and] this is what the Arusha Peace Agreement was all about.”

When this newspaper contacted him about the allegations, High Commissioner Mugambage said Mr Rudasingwa is a deranged man and his words are inconsequential. “Nothing he says or writes is serious. He is a mad man; he has gone berserk,” Gen. Mugambage said.

Mr Rudasingwa presently lives in exile in the US. In the statement titled, “confession”, he noted that “despite public denials, the fact of Kagame’s culpability in this crime is also a public ‘secret’ within RPF”.

Mr Rundasingwa was in 1994 RPF’s secretary-general and a Major in the rebel army, according to accounts offered in the dossier, and was away in Kampala attending a Pan-African Movement conference when the plane carrying the two Presidents exploded in skies over Kigali. He said he first heard news of the assassination on BBC.

In years after, Mr Rudasingwa said he joined others in the RPF leadership to conceal the truth. He wrote: “I ask for forgiveness from the people of Burundi and France whose leaders and citizens were killed in this crime. Above all, I ask for forgiveness from God.”

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