Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Assassination of Habyarimana, Kagame’s Allies and Rwanda’s Changing Narrative.

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In 1994 President Juvenal Habyarimana died but his ghost never left. Seventeen years later, the late President is still a haunting figure who often reappears in contemporary political discourse. The purpose of this commentary is not to discuss Habyarimana’s legacy. Whatever one thinks of him, it is without doubt that his exit brought devastating consequences, not just for Rwanda but the Great Lakes region as a whole. His death, though an issue of political significance, lies on the sidelines of history. This is in part, no doubt, due to the wishes of those in power. An important question that needs to be asked, and hopefully even answered, is who killed Habyarimana and what motivation did they have? In my view, it is doubtful whether Rwanda can move forward fully without addressing these underlying questions.

In the first week of October this year, Theogene Rudasingwa’s wrote a mind boggling note that was disseminated via the social networking site Facebook.The note has resurrected a debate that was almost forgotten. Its content, which got heavily circulated via Twitter, left many Rwanda-watchers struck dumb. Rudasingwa was categorical in his “confession”, pointing an accusatory finger at the current President of Rwanda and former war lord, Paul Kagame. Here is a brief excerpt of the note:

The truth must now be told. Paul Kagame, then overall commander of the Rwandese Patriotic Army, the armed wing of the Rwandese Patriotic Front, was personally responsible for the shooting down of the plane. In July, 1994, Paul Kagame himself, with characteristic callousness and much glee, told me that he was responsible for shooting down the plane. Despite public denials, the fact of Kagame’s culpability in this crime is also a public “secret” within RPF and RDF circles. Like many others in the RPF leadership, I enthusiastically sold this deceptive story line, especially to foreigners who by and large came to believe it, even when I knew that Kagame was the culprit in this crime. 

Rwanda, in part reacted by ignoring the claims. It was as if the government's biggest hope was that the mainstream media would not join in the chorus. This seemed to be the case for the first few days. However, on the 4th of October, three days after the revelations, the BBC became the first major network to cover the story. While a few other news agencies followed suit, except for Voice of America Kinyarwanda service, the news was completely swept under the rag by the entire US media. Part of the reason, I believe, is the dissonance that the news report would have generated, at least, among the small population of Rwanda-watchers. Once a lie is told so many times, it could easily becomes the standard for truth. This has been the hope for Mr. Kagame.

Who is Theogene Rudasingwa?

If there is a famous Tutsi politician other than Kagame in Rwanda, Rudasingwa must be the one. Rudasingwa graduated with a degree in medicine from the prestigious Makerere University in 1990. Like Kagame, he grew up in Uganda as a refugee, and was one of the earliest members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), a leftist-leaning movement that fought for the rightful return of the Tutsi refugees and opposed Habyarimana’s ethnic-based dictatorship. He would rise quickly to gain the rank of major, and thereafter, was appointed the spokesperson for the RPF throughout the Rwandan civil war. In 1994, after the RPF prevailed, Rudasingwa acted as the party’s Secretary General and its first ambassador to the United States, a post that he held from 1996 to 1999. He returned to Rwanda in 2000 and was appointed director of Kagame’s cabinet. Perhaps due to personal differences with Kagame, he resigned from the Rwandan army and relocated to the United States to work as a professor at University of California, Berkeley.

Allegations of Corruption

The government of Rwanda insists that Rudasingwa is a corrupt individual who moved to the United States fleeing from accountability. However, these claims are hallow for their striking lack of evidence. While I do not purport to be an expert on Rudasingwa’s past, it is clear that the first allegations of corruption made against him were by the Rwandan tabloid Umuseso. In February 2004, Umuseso ran a story claiming that Rudasingwa has mismanaged a state construction contract. Its following issue on the 20th of February was not allowed to circulate as custom officials confiscated the papers. Here an explanation is in order: Rwandan newspapers are printed in Uganda due to the lack of adequate printing services in Rwanda. Later, similar claims were made by Umuseso against Rudasingwa’s brother Gerald Gahima, who was a powerful figure in Rwanda’s judiciary. Both individuals were never charged.

It is not clear why Rwanda would rely on Umuseso for evidence against its opponents. However, when the state conspires to bring an individual down anything counts as proof. Victoire Ingabire’s situation is a case in point. The state is relying on incriminating evidence from two individuals who are also the co-accused defendants. It does not matter to them that such a judicial procedure is prohibited under Rwandan law. In any case, my point is that Umuseso raised countless allegations of murder and corruption against Kagame himself. If he gave credence to their claims, he would have resigned from office long ago, or volunteered himself over to the courts for trial. In April 2010, Umuseso was banned for six months and, now more than a year later, it is yet to resume publication.

Kagame’s Attacking Dogs and Journalists for Hire

When it seemed clear that the international media would not overlook Rudasingwa’s claims, Kigali New Times, often described as the Rwandan version of Pravda launched a series of rants, all questioning Rudasingwa’s credibility. To be clear, this is not the first time that the regime’s paper has attempted to destroy Rudasingwa’s character. In March 2011, the spokesman for the Rwandan army wrote an op-ed in the same newspaper in which he described Rudasingwa as “an infamous conman, a liar”. The rest of the piece was a clear smear campaign as military spokesman even scrutinized Rudasingwa’s life from childhood. Apparently Rudasingwa used to be very flamboyant, and hence another reason to doubt him.

However, by far the most systematic attacks against Rudasingwa were not made by Rwandans. Nowadays, the role of defending Kagame has been outsourced to a cocoon of Ugandan mercenary journalists. These individuals have the luxury of churning out the most virulent propaganda without bearing any actual consequence. Perhaps due to the lack of historians in Rwanda, the group has made it their exclusive duty to interpret Rwanda’s past. Furthermore, they have a vision to boast to the rest of the world what they believe is Rwanda’s economic transformation. Disagree with them and you are labeled a genocidaire (as the author of this piece has been frequently called).

Writing for the Daily Nation, Charles Onyango-Obbo, a member of this squad writes in the typical style, “Indeed, Kigali city with its manicured lawns, endless pavements, flower gardens, and clean streets, is a little too orderly.” He does not bother to tell his audience that more than 95 percent of Rwandans live beneath the rolling hills, deep in the hinterlands and far away from Kigali’s glamor. As a friend recently commented, even when discussing an issue in Micronesia, Onyango-Obbo never fails to find a way of putting in a positive spin on Rwanda. It is a duty that he must live up to.

On the 10th of October, Frederick Golloba-Mutebi, another RPF’s outsourced brain authored a piece that was even more underwhelming. This genius authority on Rwanda called Habyarimana’s death “a minor aspect of Rwanda’s political history.” He also added that, “[t]his debate puzzles many who take more than simply a fleeting interest in Rwanda’s history — because it seems to elevate Habyarimana’s death to the status of an historical event worthy of special attention.” While the rest of the article rightly accused Habyarimana for divisive politics that ushered the 1994 genocide, he did not address Rudasingwa’s claims. Instead he sees them as “unnecessary distraction” to Kagame’s development agenda. Perhaps the allegations that Kagame gunned down the plane are too strong for him and his gang to refute.

As the leader of this troupe, Andrew Mwenda had to issue the strongest statement. His views perhaps bear the heaviest weight due to his background. Mwenda is a close associate of Kagame and currently serves as his adviser. Outside Rwanda, Mwenda is a relatively influential figure at home and abroad, who has cultivated a niche for himself as a champion of free speech and a critic of foreign aid. He has used his position and influence to advance Kagame’s personality cult and to spit fire on Kagame’s opponents without exception.

On “The Andrew Mwenda’s Minutes” a radio show which runs on Uganda’s Capital FM, Mwenda was more militant in his zealous apologia. Completely ignoring the legal ramifications, he argued that it was the right thing to assassinate Habyarimana and that it doesn’t matter if his plane contained “French crooks”. The “French crooks” is probably a reference to Habyarimana’s French crew whose families are the reason behind Jean louis bruguiere's indictments. The broadcast was full of frequent analogies between Osama and Habyarimana. At one point Mwenda mentioned that, “Just like Bin Laden deserved to die--he killed only 3000 Americans, Habyarimana one million of his own people”. Lastly, Mwenda drifted into a racial diatribe, where he accused the BBC for hosting “ignorant whites” to explain African problems. Quite ironical since Mwenda’s frequently hires British expatriates to write for his Uganda-based newspaper, including one Joe Powell now a Policy Manager with the One Campaign. Moreover, his newspaper often re-publishes pro-Kagame opinion pieces by the likes of Steven Kinzer, Philip Gourevitch and Tim Gallimore. None of these individuals are African.

Seeking a broader audience on Twitter, Mwenda exported his bizarre arguments to this social networking website. Only that on Twitter, the attacks got a little more personal. “For Rudasingwa, a Tutsi, to come mourning over the grave of this mass murderer is like a Jew mourning on the grave of Hitler,” he wrote. A few seconds later, he announced to the twitter world that Rudasingwa is a “traitor”. He further accused Rudasingwa of attempting to beat him up during a recent encounter of the two in the United States. While this is an attempt to vilify Rudasingwa, attacking him in personal terms is stooping too low for a journalist of his reputation.

Lastly, Mwenda's careless comparison of Osama and Habyarimana deserves further scrutuny. I believe there are major differences between Osama Bin Laden and Habyarimana. Any comparison that ignores the differences is bent on misleading. The first difference is that Osama was never a US citizen. If he were, I believe the question of his assassination would be seen in a different light. The second difference is that, unlike Osama, Habyarimana was an elected head of state. This in no way excuses Habyarimana's wrong-doings, however, assassinating a head of state is much of a serious crime. Third, Habyarimana was pursuing a peace process with his political rivals. As such, it was obvious that killing him would cause a power vacuum that was likely to hinder Rwanda's internal security.  On the contrary, at no time did Osama ever consider talking with the Americans. He advocated for a pure extremist view and never offered any compromises. Lastly, Al Qaeda is a terrorist group, attacking citizens of foreign countries.

Mwenda in Kagame’s Wallet

If you read the comments on his articles, you quickly realize the gravity of this rumor. Mwenda refuses to discuss this allegation, and when pressed about it insists that it is more important to discuss (other) important issues (personal communication with the author). Yet the claims cannot be wished away. There are numerous sources online that delve into this saga. Some even have documented proof such as bank receipts--showing transactions between Mwenda and the Rwandan government. In one such receipt, Andrew is allegedly paid $200,000 for the purchase of advertising space. It is unclear why the Government of Rwanda would advertise in Uganda when her own newspapers are hungry for such revenue. The receipts might well be “forged” as Mwenda claims, but it his religious defending of Kagame that will always raise the red flag.

It is also said that Mwenda enjoys very close personal relations with Kagame. Word has it that whenever he visits Rwanda he is accorded royal treatment and even stays at the State House. A recent meeting between Kagame and Museveni was reportedly organized by Mwenda. Pictures released online show him hanging around with the two despots. His new status as an adviser to the Rwandan President will definitely earn him a few extra coins. And even if the money fails to trickle in, Mwenda can always take advantage of Rwanda’s position as a donor darling to market his name in the West.

Loopholes Dog the Conventional Narrative

Increasingly, the conventional narrative of Rwanda has started to face challenges. For years, the world accepted Kagame as the hero who put an end to the 1994 genocide. The genocide was narrated [mostly be Philip Guourevitch] as a duel between good (Tutsi) and evil (Hutu). On top of the power structure of the genocidaires was a group called the Akazu or le clan de madame. The Akazu, headed by Habyarimana’s wife, Agather Kanziga was, believed to be responsible for the mass assassination of political figures who opposed the regime's agenda. Later, it was argued that the same group murdered President Habyarimana in order to execute their genocidal dream: an extermination of all Tutsi. Because of the conceptualization of good and evil in almost pure religious terms, the narrative was never questioned. After all, is there a limit to the wrongs that evil people can do?

The reality was so different and the narrative nursed a lot of gaping holes, some of which have now become impossible to conceal. In 1997, when it became clear to the ICTR lead investigator, Michael Hourigan that Kagame was responsible for Habyarimana’s shooting, the prosecutor Louise Arbour ordered him to put an immediate end to the inquiry. In a conference in 2010, Hourigan stated: “I indicated that she was wrong and she said to me: ‘Are you questioning my authority?’ I said: ‘No. I was questioning your judgment’”. Needless to say, the results of Hourigan’s investigation never saw the light of the day. Agitated by what he believed to be political interference in his work, Hourigan later resigned.

Even putting legal evidence aside, the claim that the Akazu or Hutu extremists conspired to kill Habyarimana is still incoherent at best. First, Habyarimana was the very patron of the Interahamwe. He was the largest share-holder of radio Mille Colline--later used to stir anti-Tutsi propaganda. Why would the genocidaire want him dead? And why would anyone paint him as being sympathetic of the Arusha accords? Cables from the Rwandan embassy prior to the genocide describes the impasse as follows: “The United States had done everything it could to help Rwanda pass through this transition gloriously, but we had not seen the same commitment from Rwandan leaders”. Clearly, there was no willingness from either the FAR or the RPF to honor the peace agreements. Evidence shows that while the peace talks went on both sides were busy arming in preparation for war. However, while Habyarimana would have politically maneuvered the accord, RPF’s future prospects were much bleaker.

Were the RPF satisfied with the Arusha accords? This is far from the case. First, although the Arusha accord allowed for the integration of the RPF with the Rwandan army, politically, the RPF would remain disadvantaged. The political positions had to be shared out with other parties. This description of the RPF by the US Embassy in 1993 renders more credibility to my claims: “The RPF is essentially an ethnic based organization consisting mainly of Tutsi exiles. As a result, popular support for the RPF in Rwanda--where Hutus make up 85 percent of the population and control the government--is nil”. Since the Arusha agreements mandated elections within a year, it is clear that the RPF was destined to lose. Furthermore, if Kagame sought to achieve Tutsi hegemony, it would not have been possible within the Arusha framework. Most of the RPF political leaders at the time were Hutu, which included Kanyarengwe, Lizinde and Bizimungu. Had elections been held even the few RPF positions would have likely ended up in Hutu hands. Yet for the RPF, their biggest problem was how to overcome a majoritarian dictatorship.

17 years later, we now know that the RPF managed to install a pure Tutsi hegemony. Rwanda today is a dictatorship, completely run by a closely-knit Tutsi elite. Hutu individuals are seriously underrepresented from positions of power in public and private sector. Yet the same Hutu comprise 85% of the population. As one would have guessed, the fate for Hutu leaders in RPF [Paul Rusesabagina refers to them as empty suits] was somewhat predictable. They would be marginalized in order to pave room for the Tutsification of power in Rwanda. This is exactly what happened. Alexis Kanyaregwe, the president of the RPF, died a poor man under house arrest in Ruhengeli. He fell out with the regime after the RPF massacred his kins in Kanama. The operations in Kanama which killed many Hutu civilians during the 1997 insurgent years have been well documented by Amnesty International. Pasteur Bizimungu ended up being appointed the figure head President of the new republic. Kagame, then officially his vice-president, forced him to resign. When Bizimungu hesitated, he was handed a long sentence under charges of corruption.

Other senior Hutu RPF comrades were not so lucky. When the regime started massacring Hutus, Col. Theoneste Lizinde fled Rwanda but was assassinated in Nairobi, Kenya. He is thought to have been the only Hutu individual with information that would have implicated Kagame in the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane. Unfortunately, he died before he could open his mouth. This was the same fate suffered by Seth Sendashonga, also a prominent Hutu in the RPF. In 1998, he was gunned down in the street of Nairobi in the full view of onlookers. When an embassy official was caught literaly with the smoking gun, Rwanda invoked diplomatic immunity. In the days that followed the assassination, Kenya ended official diplomatic relations with Rwanda--their embassy in Nairobi was ordered to close.

Yet another frustration that gave the RPF ulcers, was the emergence of new popular movements which reignited Hutu power such as the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). The RPF tried constantly to marginalize CDR from Arusha negotiations. In a heated conversation between the RPF and US authorities, Ambassador Rawson stated that, “if the RPF insisted on a long review in which it sat as judge and jury on CDR, then institutions would never be established.” His point being that the CDR would have to be accepted as a legitimate stakeholder. The RPF would not take any of this.

If the Hutu extremists wanted Habyarimana dead, it is unclear why they would kill him along with other senior political and military officials. They should have known that such an action would be of strategic benefit to the RPF. For instance, also in the plane was Gen. Deogratius Nsabimana, the commander of the Rwandan military and a Hutu from the northwest—Habyarimana’s stronghold. In Rwanda’s highly militarized politics, Gen. Nsabimana was seen as Habyarimana’s successor. He was the symbol and motivation for Rwanda military during the civil war. It is also clear that he shared deep hatred for the RPF and was said to prefer battle zones to military offices in Kigali. One does not need psychic powers to figure out that killing Gen. Nsabimana would have profoundly weakened the FAR. If Hutu extremists wanted to maintain hegemony and win the war, this would be an unthinkable course of action. Also in the plane was Agathe’s own brother. Was the first lady this stupid to sacrifice her husband and brother over a plan that would work against her personal interests? Again, this is unimaginable.

The president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira was also in the plane. Now, if the Hutu extremists devised the plan to blow up the plane, considering the easy access they had on Habyarimana's schedule, they would have prevented Ntaryamira from boarding the fateful plane. Ntaryamira is significant to the Rwandan story. Habyarimana had often told diplomats that a solution to Burundi was just as necessary as a solution to Rwanda. There is no doubt that Hutu extremists dreamed of a Pan-Hutu state of Rwanda and Burundi. Furthermore, Ntaryamira like his predecessor was a graduate of the University of Rwanda and with extensive networks in Kigali. Killing him would have curtailed the Hutu cause in Burundi—something the Hutu extremists could not afford. Hatred for Tutsi was an ideology that spread beyond borders and Burundi was a vital point.

In 1993 the first democratically President of Burundi, Melchior Ndadaye had been brutally murdered by Tutsi extremists less than three months into his presidency. He was the biggest hope for peace in Burundi and had nominated a Tutsi as his vice-president. The event was followed by killings between Hutu and Tutsi, and claimed about 20,000 lives. But the image of a scheming Tutsi extremist bent on assassinating Hutu leaders stayed in the minds of many Hutus. It was rumored that Ndadaye’s genitals had been cut off, symbolizing a Hutu fear that dates back to pre-colonial period. In Hutu oral tradition, the belief was that when Tutsis first arrived in Rwanda they emasculated Hutu leaders and used them to decorate royal drums. As such, the fear of Tutsi conquest became more palpable and may help elucidate the rabid hatred. In other words, in the eyes of Hutu supremacists, Burundi was as much a battle zone as was Rwanda. President Ntaryamira was seen as advancing that objective. He was a vital asset, not a liability to get rid of or gamble with.

So, if the Hutu extremists did not murder Habyarimana, who did? This is the question that Rudasingwa and other former RPF operatives have attempted to answer. As such, it should be stated that Rudasingwa’s claims are not new information. In fact, one captain Ruzibiza became the first Tutsi officer to offer a confession in the late 90s. He even went further to write a book about spilling some of the details. His conclusions were not different from those of Rudasingwa: Kagame assassinated Habyarimana with the full knowledge that such an action would result in the 1994 genocide. Ruzibiza was later pressured by Rwanda to recant his testimony, but it was too late and serious observers had already gotten the message.

While skeptics will argue that the RPF did not have the capacity to obtain the missiles, such as a position is ridiculous and daft. RPF was fully funded by the government of Uganda, which happens to be so much more wealthier and with a larger military budget than that of Rwanda at this period. The fact that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni offered support to the RPF was Rwandan government's position throughout the civil war. Habyarimana accused his neighbor of not only facilitating RPF’s offensives but also doing little to stop them. In a meeting between Habyarimana and U.S. Congressman Stephen Solarz, the latter argued that Uganda was involved in an act of war only comparable to Sadaam’s invasion of Kuwait. Solarz seemed convinced as reported by the US Embassy:

Solarz asked if a congressional resolution urging Museveni to withdraw support from the rebels would be helpful to Rwanda. The ambassador said he could not judge whether a resolution would be useful in influencing Ugandan policy or not, and suggested the congressman consult with assistant secretary of Cohen before proceeding. 

The changing Narrative

In August of 2010, an important United Nations report accusing the present Rwandan government of genocide against members of the Hutu ethnic group was leaked to the French African diaspora newspaper Juene Afrique.  But it was after the French daily, Le Monde, picked it up that the story started circulating in the  international press. While it is impossible to comment on the entire report, a few sections are worth quoting.  The leaked version of the report, employed very strong language perhaps in a desperate attempt to reawaken the global conscious about the scope of these atrocities:

The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide
Needless to say, the allegations sent Kigali spinning. The narrative was starting to be challenged and in a very fundamental way.It later turned out that, several members of  the panel of experts had leaked the report out of fear that the report would go missing.

Mary Luoise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan foreign minister who also doubles up as the government spokes-person was tasked  with counteracting the report. She seemed to be the ideal person for the job. Mushikiwabo is very articulate in both English and French. She spent many years in Washington DC, where she worked for a PR company. Her brother is the late Lando Ndasingwa, who was a minister in the Habyarimana government. Mr. Ndasingwa , his Canadian family and their children were among the first victims killed after the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane. Her specific qualities and background makes her a compelling face for the otherwise militaristic regime.

However, Ms. Mushikiwabo's initial efforts were quite disastrous. On the 31st of August, she told a press conference that Rwanda was prepared to withdraw her 4000 troops from Darfur if the report got published. This position was reinforced by the army spokesman, Col. Jill Rutarema who stated that, "All logistical and personnel resources are in place. The pullout will take the shortest time possible. The withdrawal will apply to the RDF peacekeepers serving under the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS)." Rwanda remained adamant in insisting that the UN should water-down the report, and in particular, that the allegation of genocide should be removed.


As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. Philip Gourevitch was invited in the country to "fight the bad press". On the 27th of August, he wrote a blog entry for the New Yorker in which he openly denounced the UN report. On his part, Gourevitch tried to minimize the gravity of the crimes, arguing that the number of victims killed is so much smaller compared to the 1994 Rwanda genocide. His other argument was that the report  used "a minimum standard in journalism, but beyond minimalist in international law". In other words, the report would be of little use in a court of law. Of course, this is quite bizarre coming from a man whose journalistic account of the Rwandan genocide became the primary authority on the 1994 genocide. What Gourevitch and others fail to understand is the significance of this report in offering closure to the victims of the said atrocities. It is one thing to have a relative killed, it is another thing when the perpetrators of such violence continue to deny it and are not held accountable.

In the week that followed, the report generated too much heat that the UN Secretary general, Ban Ki-moon had to travel to Rwanda, supposedly summoned. It seems that Ki-moon's effort was to try to persuade Rwanda against pulling out of Darfur. He stated that, "I also strongly praised Rwanda’s commitment to the United Nations and in particular its role in peacekeeping operations". Rwanda could not back down on her demands that the report should get quashed. In particular, they were concerned that a major contradiction was developing in the narrative. Kagame would later say, "you cannot praise us for ending the genocide and accuse the same forces of another genocide". While this is certainly a discrepancy, it is not one that would surprise anyone with more than basic knowledge on Rwanda. Since Rwanda is a politically dual society, ethnic-based killings are part of our reality.

On the 27 of September 2010, Kagame rescinded the "pulling out" of Darfur threat. This was the message conveyed by Kagame to the Secretary General during the UN Head of States Summit. Perhaps a compromise had been reached. When the final version of the report was released on the first day of October, it seemed rather watered down. Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy wrote an article showing some of the major changes. However, she stated that:

Despite the changes, the final report still constitutes the most comprehensive and damning official account of crimes committed in one of Africa's deadliest conflict zones. And it continues to assert that an alliance of Rwandan, Burundian soldiers and Congolese rebels may have committed genocide during military operations in eastern Congo during the 1990s.
That way, even the revised report still formed a sharp critique of the conventional narrative. It gave much more credence to the double-genocide theory than any revisionist had done. Not surprisingly, discussing the allegations contained in the report is criminal in Rwanda today. In fact, Madame Victoire Ingabire is in prison for daring to mention that the RPF committed massacres against members of the Hutu ethnic group. I do not know what would have happened to her, had she mentioned the allegations of genocide.

What if Kagame Assassinated Habyarimana?

Fully aware of the weaknesses in his narrative, Kagame has begun to change the story. While the conventional story contended that Hutu extremists had assassinated Habyarimana as a pretext to kill Tutsis, he now argues that the two events had no correlation. This is the position articulated by Dr. Mutebi. He even disputes the standard narrative that puts Habyarimana’s death as the trigger of genocide. They argue instead that Habyarimana was part of the apparatus that prepared the genocide. Mwenda best articulates this position when he says that, Habyarimana would be “responsible for killing millions even in his death”. Significant, the evolved narrative does not consider Habyarimana as a Hutu moderate interested in peaceful negotiations. This way, their argument effectively admits that there were few differences between the Hutu extremists and Habyarimana himself. They were both united in overall cause of exterminating the Tutsi community.

The latest narrative also revises the question of Hutu moderates. In the past, Kagame had argued that all Hutu moderates were killed in 1994. If you are a Hutu and you survived then you must have been sympathetic to the genocidal cause. However, the current narrative is to assert that because Hutus were not targeted as an ethnic group, then the question of the genocide of moderate Hutus cannot arise. So influential is this position that “Rwanda genocide” was effectively changed to “genocide against Hutu”. Untenable as it is though, the same regime denies the existence of ethnic groups in Rwanda. They argue that ethnicity is a colonial construct, ethnicity does not exist. In a country where using the Hutu/Tutsi labels is prohibited, who would not find such a change to be fascinating? So, there are no Hutus and Tutsis but the genocide was perpetrated by Hutus against Tutsis. Who are these fellows and where did they go to?

Suppose it is proven as truth that Kagame assassinated Habyarimana, how would this change the narrative? This is a difficult question to answer. As already pointed out, the regime seems to be re-shaping its the narrative in anticipation for such an eventuality. With the French investigation in their second phase, it is likely that the verdict will rule against the RPF. Even if we contend that the death of Habyarimana had nothing to do with the massacre of Tutsi, it is still a crime under international law. As such, it is an issue that has the capacity to shake Kagame’s dictatorship. Even worse, fear of getting arrested for his possible criminal responsibility into Habyarimana’s death might prohibit the dictator from leaving power. This will be a continuation of the Rwanda narrative in rather mesmerizing ways. In short, the Rwandan narrative is still being written.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ok Mr Rudasingwa,
why don't you report yourself to a tribunal for your OWN role in the killing of many rwandans. You forget that you used to be with Mr President. Make anyone believe you are better, try it... (you see where now lies and bad acts leads,.. I hope you are still able to earn your life, because you had a chance to do well, but did not, now this chance is not there anymore) Get a life!

Anonymous said...

You pretty much said what i could not effectively communicate. +1

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