Rwanda’s former intelligence guru, Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa has accused President Paul Kagame of persecuting, witch hunting and killing Rwandan nationals in exile over selfish motives of ruling Rwanda.
In an interview with Zambia’s eNews Channel Africa, Gen. Nyamwasa wondered why they (opponents) should run away from Rwanda to go to exile and then get followed up and then shot at. He was recounting on the 2010 incident where he was shot in the stomach at his home in South Africa.
He accused Kagame of allocating himself 95 per cent win of the elections and imposing himself on the people of Rwanda and persecution his political opponents.
“There are tens of thousands of Rwandans in this country (South Africa) and all of them feel targeted. Some of them have actually been wounded” he said.
Adding “I remember Frank Nkwali had been stabbed many times here in South Africa just because he happens to be related to me. You know the death of my colleague and great friend Patrick Karegeya who was in exile here in South Africa, He was murdered in cold blood so the vindication,”
“He targets me because I advised him that we should concentrate much more on reconciliation and who had won the war? We are the victors, and we should be magnanimous in victory, talk even to the opposition and allow them to even have a voice in the system. My advice was along the way construed as going parallel to the line whereby he was trying to entrench himself and entrenching his party and I thought that was not what we struggled for,” he said.
He said dialogue will solve all the problems in Rwanda, “We have got hundreds of refugees outside Rwanda you are not going to kill or shoot them like Kagame thinks that he can go to Congo and kill all the ADR, there must be a cause why they are there, they must have what they represent,” he added.
Below are the details of the interview.
Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa take us back to the events of June 19, 2010 you were near death experience, what was that like for you?
That was a very difficult situation because I had run to South Africa, left my own county, I thought I had run for safety but then all over a sudden I was with my wife, my children, we were in a flat where we were staying and allover a sudden somebody comes up with a gun and shoots me.
I was not surprised because earlier, some other Ugandans had been killed in exile so my situation was not something that was surprising although I didn’t think that it could happen.
Now that there was a court case with six accused, four had been found guilty and the verdict was read. Do you feel vindicated by this verdict?
Yes I do, first of all I am very pleased with the judiciary of this country, because some of them were acquitted, other have been convicted and it shows the balance of the whole situation. Am not maximalist to think that everybody must be convicted. If the Court cannot find anybody guilty, I feel irritated after all those who were found guilty will be sentenced but that is not the issue; the issue is why should we run away from our country? And we go to exile and then got followed and then got shot at?
This may not be the end of the story, am not the only one, there are tens of thousands of Rwandans in this country (South Africa) and all of them feel targeted. Some of them have actually been wounded; I remember Frank Nkwali had been stabbed many times here in South Africa just because he happens to be related to me.
You know the death of my colleague and great friend Patrick Karegeya who was in exile here in South Africa, He was murdered in cold blood so the vindication is in such a way that those who have been targeting us have been identified in a court of law. It ceases to be a political issue; it is no longer about whether or not. Issues have been put across for everybody to see the facts are.
Of course the judge came out in his ruling and said that your shooting was politically motivated and that is something you have been saying for a long time pointing fingers at President Paul Kagame. Why would he come after you?
First of all, why should I be here? We worked together and we tried sort of liberating the country, the reasons behind the liberation at that time was because we thought we would establish democracy, rule of law and bring to an end the issue of refugees. However, today in Rwanda, elections are rigged and he scores or allocates himself 95 per cent of the outcomes of the elections. Rwanda’s judiciary doesn’t work and that is why former President Bizimungu was taken to prison for just forming an opposition Party, Ngabire a lady who was never involved in genocide came to vie for the post of president and imprisoned, most of them are in prison.
Why is he particularly targeting you? What is the problem between the two of you?
He has targeted me because I advised him that we should concentrate much more on reconciliation and who had won the war, we are the victors and we should be magnanimous in victory, talk even to the opposition and allow them to even have a voice in the system. My advice was along the way construed as going parallel to the line whereby he was trying to entrench himself and entrenching his party and I thought that was no what we struggled for.
Paul Kagame has been quoted calling you the excreting human waste, a fly that should be crashed and a thief. How do react about this?
Well he has called me all those sorts of names but I don’t feel bitter and I am to very spiteful about all those kind of situation.
The issue is I am not a human waste but because am able to talk may be different language or what he shouldn’t expect and then here he abuses me like that but I don’t take issues that way. What is at stake is the democracy of our country, the judiciary, the issue if refugees and human rights.
But you seem more than convinced that it is him who was actually after you? Bearing in mind when you look at your history that you fought a war under Museveni. You have fought a lot of wars, you crashed the rebellion rather the genocide in Rwanda, and you must have a lot of enemies. Why do you think that it is Paul Kagame coming after you?
I don’t have any enemies because when we were fighting those wars, I was not alone and I was not an over role commander. If you talk about enemies’ maybe some of the people we were fighting in Uganda for Museveni and others commanders or even in Rwanda for that matter. We were doing that not as individuals but as a collective and therefore, I don’t have personal enemies and actually I don’t think Kagame is my enemy in my own sense because I can’t afford to have enemies, that was good to burden my heart , that is why I don’t feel bitter.
I don’t consider him as my enemy but I think what he is doing is creating a situation. He is creating imaginary enemies so he creates enemies but as far as am concerned, I don’t think I have enemies out there because I lived in Uganda for some years , I lived in Rwanda but nobody ever coasted me and no body abuses me. The person who is abusing me, is the person who celebrated the death of my friend Patrick Karegeya and the person who actually went to parliament and said is going to kill us because we are flies what else should I say.
But Gen. Nyamwasa you are wanted in Spain, France and there is a 24 year sentence for you in Kigali? Are all these countries wrong about you? Why are they targeting you?
Look, talk about France. When you talk about France all those are indictments were suspended and investigations put them aside. Talk about Spain, we have asked the Spanish government to come and talk me if they want but they haven’t showed up. What I am telling you is that these are issues that happened during the war. I was not the commander.
Am not afraid just like the previous case they are talking about. Six people were accused in my own case, two were acquitted simply because maybe they were not guilty but they were acquitted. Even this case in France and Spain, am very confident. Rose Kabuye was taken to France and was released and she is back in Rwanda.
Let’s talk about France because their accusations are: You took part in the shooting of the former president Habyarimana’s plane, but who actually shot that plane down?
This is a matter which is in court, the issue is I didn’t take part is the shooting of the plane and I was not in Kigali by the way. Whoever shot Habyarimana must have been in Kigali and I was not in Kigali so it is not true that I shot or even ordered the killing of Habyarimana and I never participated in the killing so that is the fact.
But do you know who ordered the shooting?
That is the matter am not going to discuss.
You are the founding member of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and of course this is an organisation of opposition people in exile. We want to find out from you, is it a regime change that you are after?
No, no, not necessarily, we are not about change of guards, we are talking about democratization in Rwanda. When we talk about that, we simply feel tears under RPF, we are talking about the rule of law and that is why we are in exile. That is why our co patriots are rotting in prisons in Kigali. We are talking about the issue of stopping refugees, now that has nothing to do with change of guards. It means fundamental change, change the situation in Rwanda, that everybody can enjoy, the life that we all yearn for.
How do you propose to do that?
We propose to do them through dialogue, and we believe Rwandans should sit and poke out their differences for example now we have got hundreds of refugees outside Rwanda you are not going to kill or shoot them like Kagame thinks that he can go to Congo and kill all the ADR, there must be a cause why they are there, they must have what they represent. The best way could be to talk to them not go and kill them.
We have got our own differences, ethnical differences, the genocide, the issue of the Hutu who died during the war. We must sit to reconcile with all those issues and the only way to do that is dialogue, without dialogue Rwanda will not reconcile with itself or its people.
Have you made efforts towards dialogue with President Paul Kagame?
No, well I haven’t
Who is the person you are talking about dialoguing with?
Am talking about Rwandans mainly in exile and the people in Rwanda to find a formula through which we can be able to reconcile our people. So with Kagame I have not talked to him and I don’t think he would wish to talk to me because I think his objective is to kill me. When I talk about dialogue he is talking about war or killing and that is the difference.
Now RNC has been talking about alleged assassination, you have been talking about arrests as well. My question is have you taken these issues to international bodies Like International criminal court (ICC)?
Well you know ICC is a very complicated organisation, they normally receive cases that have been referred to them by governments, therefore, Rwanda is not a signatory to the statute so it is very difficult but there are other avenues like the East African court of justice, Court in African Union.
Actually my brother who is now being incarcerated in Rwanda, we took this case to the East African court of justice and won on the first incidence and we again won on appeal but still Rwanda is holding him in prison having won all those cases.
We feel that time will come when we have to use all these institutions but this requires a lot of money which we probably don’t have. Secondly we need to organize politically and be able to inform the whole world to understand the problems we are having.
Thirdly, we believe the issues of Rwanda shall not be resolved by just going to courts, we need to reconcile with Rwandans because whether we win in courts of law and the situation continues in Rwanda, where people continue getting arrested, killed.I think you must have heard of the 40 dead bodies that were recovered in Lake Rweru at the boarder of Rwanda and Burundi but the spokesperson for the government of Burundi indicated that the bodies came flowing from Rwanda and landed in the lakes.
If you have 40 dead bodies that are lying in the lake coming from one country, then how many people have disappeared? These are not issues that East African court can resolve, but we Rwandans must to expose the people who support the government of Rwanda, those who give them aid, so that they can put pressure on Rwanda. I agree that we should also use judicial measure to resolve these issues.
The emphasis you have put is dialogue, have you looked at military intervention as a party?
We have been at very many wars and the current regime is as result of war but what we fought for has not been realized. I think we must try the way of peace and if we cannot be able to achieve peace then who want to go for war can go. You don’t just go to war because the cost of war is so high.
In most cases when you have gone in war the vanquished will also want to fight you tomorrow. Look at South Africa for example, if they had gone for war, or attained its indolence through war, we would not have these buildings in which we sit, and they could probably been destroyed.
Look at wars in the neighboring countries, look at Mozambique, Angola, they had longtime wars but eventually talked to the opposition although there are problems, in Angola Savimbi’s group is in parliament. Rwanda’s problems have always been solved by war but we have never had peace and peaceful means solving problems, maybe that has not been done.
What will it take for you to go home?
It will take me a lot of effort in the sense that, we are talking about peaceful means. When we talk about peace, you must be aware that it is along protracted process and that is what we are pursuing. It can take a short time just like it can take a long time but we are prepared to be in our country.