Two important pieces of news broke around the same time on Monday, sending tongues wagging. Both triggered an avalanche of speculation, especially among Rwandan opposition and armed groups operating outside the country.
But, the arrest of Paul Rusesabagina, the leader of an opposition group linked to attacks that killed innocent Rwandans in Southern Province, particularly in 2018, was by far the bigger story, even sending international media into overdrive.
Rusesabagina and Faustin Twagiramungu’s MRCD is the political umbrella of FLN, the armed militia that made incursions into Rwanda, killing, maiming and kidnapping innocent civilians. The militia, which would later claim responsibility, also destroyed public infrastructure and personal properties.
Yet, many people around the world probably know Rusesabagina from the 2004 Hollywood movie, Hotel Rwanda, which portrayed him as the hero who saved the lives of more than 1200 people sheltering at a hotel which he managed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Well, his version of the events at the Hotel de Mille Collines have been disputed by survivors, who say that Rusesabagina extorted money from refugees and expelled those who could not pay, contrary to the briefing from the Belgian owners. Many have since accused him of profiteering from the tragedy – during and after.
Nonetheless, the international arrest warrant that led to Rusesabagina’s apprehension has nothing to do with his fictional heroism that landed him accolades from different circles. Rather, it is the result of subversive activities that he would later get involved with, including creating and sponsoring terrorist groups that subsequently killed innocent Rwandans. Details about these violent crimes have been a matter of public knowledge for a while now, especially following the 2019 arrest – and subsequent guilty plea – of Callixte Nsabimana, FLN’s spokesperson. Victims will be happy to see justice served.
The other piece of news that filtered through the country yesterday was the killing of the leader of another anti-Kigali armed group, DR Congo-based RUD-Urunana, during operations by Congolese forces.
‘Col’ Cyprien Leo Mpiranya, alias Kagoma, died during clashes with FARDC units in Rutshuru territory, less than a year after he had replaced ‘Gen’ Juvenal Musabyimana, alias Jean-Michel Africa, who also died in similar circumstances in November 2019.
RUD-Urunana, a breakaway faction of the FDLR genocidal militia, was responsible for the October 2019 attack on Kinigi in northern Rwanda, killing 14 civilians, before some of the assailants were arrested while others retreated and crossed into Uganda.
Sustained FARDC operations against armed groups in Congo’s east have dealt a blow to several negative groups in the region, and it is a major step toward ending years of instability and systemic violence in the region.
Whether it’s about cooperation to arrest terror suspects or militarily tackling negative groups that refuse to lay down arms, Rwandans and citizens of other countries in the region will take encouragement from the fact that some members of the international community are not looking the other way as terror groups seek to wreak havoc.