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Rwanda: ex-army chief shot in Johannesburg 0

An exiled Rwandan general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, was shot in South Africa on Saturday. He is alive.  Four people under arrest. The government of Rwanda does not condone violence.

Sources in South Africa said Kayumba, a critic of President Paul Kagame, was shot outside his gate at midday, while entering his home in Sandton, an upscale Johannesburg suburb. Kayumba was in the intensive care unit of a Johannesburg hospital yesterday after being shot in the stomach. In Kigali, the Rwanda government condemned the shooting of Lt Gen Nyamwasa.

Ms Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s government spokesperson said in a statement: “We learned the news through the media, and have no confirmation or details of the incident.”

“The government of Rwanda does not condone violence, and we wish the family strength and serenity. We trust in the ability of South African authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly.”

South African police said on Monday they had arrested four people for the shooting of an exiled Rwandan army general on Saturday.

Police spokesman Govind Samy would not give the nationality of those arrested, saying: “We are still busy with the investigation.”

Sources further said the Rwanda government recently offered Kayumba and another dissident Col. Patrick Karegyeya official repatriation back home. But there are fears that once repatriated to Rwanda both army officials could face the law over alleged rebel activities.

Before the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels captured power in 1994, Kayumba was the Commanding Officer of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) in the rebel ranks.

In January 1998, then Colonel Kayumba Nyamwasa was appointed Army Chief of Staff replacing then Colonel Samuel Kanyemera. He was promoted to Major General and later Lieutenant General.

In 2001, Gen. Kayumba was relieved of his duties and replaced briefly by exiled General Ben Emmanuel Habyarimana, an ex-FAR officer who was also later replaced by current General James Kabarebe when Habyarimana become defence minister. General Kayumba was sent for training in the UK.

In November 2002, government redeployment returned Kayumba as Head of Security Services – described as co-ordinating the internal and external security apparatus. Two years later, the General was posted to India as the country’s envoy, a post he held until he fled to South Africa.

Kayumba is also sought by the Spanish and French governments over contested indictments.

In November 2006, a French anti-terrorism Judge Jean Louise Bruguiere indicted General Kayumba, along with nine other senior Rwanda military officers for allegedly being part of the enterprise which assassinated former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.

The indictments led to Rwanda severing relations with France completely until recently – with the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In February 2008, Spanish judge Andreu Fernando Merrelles also named General Kayumba among the 40 people he indicted for the death of Spanish nuns and war crimes.

In both of the indictments, President Kagame is also named but was not indicted owing to presidential immunity under international law. Government has fiercely contested the warrants – but the Spanish indictments have not gone far.

At the time, General Kayumba – a diplomat in India and therefore also protected under international law, angrily dismissed the two indictments.

Since arriving in South Africa, the former army chief has accused President Paul Kagame of corruption, accusations the Rwandan authorities have denied.

Kayumba is not the first Rwandese exile to suffer this kind of attack. On May 16, 1998 Rwandese former government minister Seth Sendashonga was shot dead in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Sendashonga had survived an earlier assassination attempt in February 1996, when he and his nephew were both injured after being shot in Nairobi by people he identified as Rwandese. A diplomat from the Rwandese embassy in Nairobi was suspected by the Kenyan authorities of involvement in the attack; he was initially detained, but released without trial, under pressure from the Rwandese Government.

Since that attack, Sendashonga had reportedly been taking precautions for his safety and usually travelled with a bodyguard. However, on the day of his assassination, he was alone in his car with his driver, who was also killed.

A Rwandan diplomat was arrested at the scene but the authorities in Kigali refused to lift his diplomatic immunity to allow prosecution. The ensuing row led to Kenya closing the Rwandan embassy for several months.

Sendashonga had fled into exile in 1995 after raising concerns about attacks on Hutu civilians by the military.

Click here for more information on Kayumba’s case

By (from The New Vision and Daily Nation)

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi