Saturday, September 17, 2011

Another Assassination Attempt in Kigali: Eric Nshimyumureyi

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Some of the actions pursued by the Rwandan government fail to make any strategic sense. This is what most of us thought when the British media reported that Rwanda was sending hit squads against opponents in Britain. It seemed counter-productive that a government, so heavily dependent on British aid, would embark on such a mission on British soil. The absurdity of this move was further compounded by the fact that the targeted critics were previously virtually unknown.

Well, a similar incident occurred again—this time in Kigali. Two days ago, Eric Nshimyumuremyi, a partisan of the P.S Imberakuri, was shot four times in the chest around 5pm. According to witnesses, Eric was shot while riding on a motor-cycle taxi. The motorist was not injured and nothing was stolen.

After about four hours (possibly enough time to fabricate a story), the police denied any assassination link claiming that Mr. Nshimyumuremyi “resisted aggressively police check and in the process a bullet attained him in the chest.” They also added that Mr. Nshimyumuremyi was found in possession of a pistol and a bag full of cash. However, the government backed New Times daily has not report on the matter. Interestingly though, today they ran an article with the title, “Civilians can own guns for security- Police”.

This is just a rather whacky explanation for such a grave situation. If someone is resisting police check, would the first instinct be to tear through their chest? Furthermore, there seems to be no evidence that Mr. Nshimyumuremyi exchanged fire. In Kigali, it would simply be unthinkable to travel on motorcycle with a bag full of cash. A car would make much more sense due to the privacy and security it offers. Similarly, a pistol would be of little help to an opposition activist living in Rwanda—the security system here is very tight, and paramilitaries are always marauding around with superior weapons.

The internal opposition thrives on conviction not by the use of bullets. It reminds me of Madame Victoire Ingabire’s own words, “Fighting with guns will mean an immediate advantage for Kagame’s regime”. She felt it would be a waste of time and energy to use a strategy that your opponent knows the best.

Despite the regime's claim to the contrary, the opposition is aware that they have no chance winning against Kagame’s military machine. Ultimately, that is why many of us laugh at the charges leveled against Ingabire. The regime which has invested so much in building an efficient security system does not know how to deal with a peaceful opposition. As Kagame usually says, they are “using a hammer to kill a fly”.

For a regime trying to repair its image, this is certainly bound to cause more harm than good for Mr. Kagame’s government. Diplomats and human rights organizations are definitely watching this!

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