Green Party official returns after year-long disappearance

A former senior official with the opposition Green Party returned to the country at the weekend, a year after his party reported him missing.
Oustazi talks to the media in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/ Courtesy.
Oustazi talks to the media in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/ Courtesy.

A former senior official with the opposition Green Party returned to the country at the weekend, a year after his party reported him missing.

Omar Leo Oustazi, who until his ‘disappearance’ in January, last year, was the party’s communications secretary, told journalists yesterday that he fled the country after learning of a plot by his colleagues in the party to kill him and then pin his murder on government.

He singled out party president Frank Habineza for his alleged murder plot.

Oustazi said Habineza had wanted to oust him from his position because they had disagreements on several issues.

However, Habineza dismissed Oustazi’s claims, calling it “a fat lie.”

“He has his own personal problems which he should own up to,” Habineza said, arguing that the party had paid Oustazi’s college fees and could not have planned to eliminate him. 

“We were also surprised as a party by the circumstances under which he fled the country, maybe he just didn’t want to be seen as if he’s opposed to government,” Habineza said.

Weeks after Oustazi’s disappearance, in a twist of events, Green Party dismissed him from the party, accusing him of “irresponsible behaviour.”

Some party officials and critics had suggested that Oustazi’s disappearance could be the work of State agents.

The party had also notified government agencies and diplomatic missions in Kigali of the alleged disappearance, urging investigations into the case.

“I was following whatever was being said. There was a lot of speculation on social media, especially Facebook. People were saying that I had been killed by government, but all that was designed to cover up the true intentions by some of my colleagues in the party,” Oustazi said.

Oustazi said he spent most of the time during his absence in Nairobi, Kenya, where he arrived after brief spells in Burundi and Tanzania.

Pressed on what prompted him to return home, he said he telephoned CID chief Theos Badege last month to inform him about his fears and the latter assured him of his safety if he returned home. 

“I thought I needed not to remain a refugee because one or two people had threatened my life, that’s why I had to return home, I believe this is a law-abiding country,” said Oustazi, who arrived back in the country on February 1.

In February, last year, the Rwanda National Police said its investigations had indicated that Oustazi was in Burundi, saying it had no reason to continue pursuing what it termed a ‘staged disappearance.’

Police chief Emmanuel Gasana said at the time that the Force would not “keep spending public resources following up on faked missing persons reports or staged disappearing acts.”

Police insisted that Oustazi was still active on Facebook, even as some people said his captors were behind the posts. 

Yesterday, Police said Oustazi was welcome back just like any other citizen.

“At least the wrong impression and speculations caused by his alleged disappearance will be no more. His return vindicates us,” said Emmanuel Kabanda, a Police communications officer.

 

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