Uganda scapegoating tactics will surely hit a brick wall

President Paul Kagame spelt out the main issues behind the current strained relations between Rwanda and Uganda in clear, verifiable terms.
Fidele Gatsinzi, who was wrongly arrested in Uganda where he had gone to visit his son, speaks to journalists upon his arrival in Kigali, December 2017. Net photo

There can only be one way to categorise the article published in Daily Monitor of 10 March 2019, under the title, “What Rwanda has been accused of.”

This is a political hit piece against Kigali, pure and simple. There is no other way to call this collection of outright falsehoods, half-truths and innuendos, not mentioning omissions of relevant information that would immediately debunk many of the piece’s dishonest assertions.  

“For a period spanning nearly three decades, the Rwandan government has been accused by human rights groups, governments and individuals of sponsoring and planning attacks on its dissidents and critics,” Daily Monitor begins.

The paper then proceeds to lend credence to outrageous allegations that usually emanate from genocide-denying groups of all hues; or from individuals like Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch, whose pronouncements on Rwanda, reveal him to undoubtedly be someone that has personal issues with its leadership; or from politically-motivated French judges working in the employ of those angry that “poor Rwanda” could dare accuse France of complicity in crimes against humanity; or from neighbours with inexplicable beef against Rwanda.

If anyone doubts this is a political hit piece, they may ask themselves: why did the article come out a day after the Rwandan leader laid bare most of the reasons behind Kampala’s hostility to Rwanda?

President Paul Kagame spelt out the main issues behind the current strained relations between Rwanda and Uganda in clear, verifiable terms. Uganda hosts a group, RNC, that has openly declared war on Rwanda.

Kigali has provided proof of that to Uganda’s leadership numerous times. Uganda hosts businesses belonging to the chief financier of this group, whose grenades have killed several Rwandans and injured hundreds more. Rwanda has proved that to Museveni.

Groups recruited in Uganda and headed to RNC training camps in eastern DRC have been intercepted at Uganda’s border with Tanzania by suspicious immigration authorities.

A particular group of individuals who were travelling on forged Ugandan papers, and upon questioning, their true motives got known: launch a war against Rwanda.

It turned out Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), had furnished them with the necessary paperwork and it was only because of sharp-eyed immigration authorities that they were stopped.

Rwanda has presented to President Museveni evidence to that effect, and he acknowledged – at a joint conference with his Rwandan counterpart – having seen it.

Also, a UN Group of Experts report issued just last year in December offered further proof of Kampala’s subversive activities as a recruitment hub, not only for RNC, but FDLR, the offshoot of the genocidal forces that decimated Rwanda in ‘94.

President Kagame at the just-concluded leadership retreat in Gabiro offered much more proof of the Museveni government’s hostility against Rwanda – including multitudes of proven incidents of the harassment, illegal arrests, abductions, kidnaps, illegal incarceration and torture of Rwandan citizens happening to be travelling, or living in Uganda.

Many have suffered torture while in prison and when “released”, transported to the Rwandan border and dumped there, in agony.

This victimisation of Rwandans is carried out most often at the direction of RNC operatives working hand-in-hand with CMI. This has been collaborated, or confirmed by numerous eyewitnesses and victims of that harassment and victimisation. It has reached the extent Rwanda has warned its nationals against going to Uganda.

The pattern of Uganda’s anti-Rwanda hostility goes back years.

Consider the case of Seth Sendashonga, a former high-ranking official in the current government who decided to go to exile to begin a rebel movement against Rwanda.

Very soon, he was in bed with the Kampala leadership, which pledged to help him in his bloodthirsty adventure.

None other than Sendashonga’s self-proclaimed friend, the revisionist “historian” Gerard Prunier, has offered further proof of that in a book he has published; “From Genocide to Continental War.”

Prunier writes that Seth Sendashonga told him: “I have got to make my move,”. Prunier says Sendashonga told him that in early 1998 during one of their meetings in Nairobi.

‘‘I have to use a gun as a way of sitting at the negotiation table one day!” Sendashonga said. Prunier reveals that Sendashonga had already amassed a force of six hundred men, and forty officers, all of them ex-FAR. These were the very people that had participated in the killing of a million Rwandans during the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Who was going to support Sendashonga, the man determined to use guns against Rwanda? Prunier reveals it is Museveni, through his brother Salim Saleh. The French-Canadian writes that it was he who set up the meeting between Saleh and Sendashonga in Nairobi, on May 3 1998.

 “Saleh was quite open to the idea of a new force entering the game,” Prunier writes.

Museveni consorting with forces or groups with the aim of bringing conflict back to Rwanda did not begin yesterday. Rwanda has displayed extra-ordinary restraint in looking at all this and keeping quiet.

On its part, Kigali hosts no anti-Kampala forces and consorts with none. Even the few senior military individuals that fled Museveni to come to Rwanda, did so decades ago and were in Rwanda as refugees, not as anti-Kampala combatants. 

The only explanation for the Monitor’s piece then is that someone in Kampala wants attention immediately drawn away from Kagame’s fact-assisted indictment of the Museveni government’s offenses against a neighbour that has committed none, whether against the state of Uganda or a single citizen of Uganda.

With Kampala possessing no convincing response to the Rwandan leader’s exposure of Museveni as the true source of problems, they have used the Monitor – a paper they often intimidate or shut down when it makes them “unhappy” – to dredge up a lot of debunked, unproven and slanderous dirt, in the guise of journalism.

The dirt they throw is the kind all the alliances of anti-Rwanda, pro-genocide groups or individuals use, recycle, and re-use no matter how many times it has been disproved with verifiable facts.

Consider the case of the so-called inquiry – but more of an international political witch-hunt – into the death of Habyarimana by French “investigative magistrate” Jean-Louis Bruguière who – on the basis of no proof – issued international arrest warrants against the entire Rwandan military leadership.

Bruguière was shown to be nothing more than a political hack when his so-called star witness Abdul Ruzibiza confessed he had made up everything he told him that allegedly implicated President Kagame.

In fact, Ruzibiza said he had been coached by the Frenchman himself on what to say. It got so embarrassing for France that they ended up quashing the warrants.

The so-called investigative magistrate had never even set foot in Rwanda.

However, a couple of other, less-politically inclined, and more objective French judges, Marc Trevidic and Nathalie Poux took up the investigation.

They took the scientific approach of coming to Kigali themselves and spent weeks upon weeks in Kigali, moving to different places and looking at forensic evidence.

All the time Kigali cooperated fully with them.

They wrote a report that basically debunked allegations that “Kagame assassinated Habyarimana” as unequivocally false. In fact, French intelligence recently leaked a document that confirms that it was Habyarimana’s own men who killed him.

Trevidic and Poux’s report should have put that question to rest, but no, the allegation will be recycled and re-invented by those seeking to destabilize Kigali, again and again.

The Daily Monitor is the latest to join the bandwagon – or perhaps it is not them; perhaps it is whoever planted that article in their paper. The article fleetingly mentions the Trevidic and Poux report (to give a semblance of objectivity) but mentions none of the salient differences between it and Bruguière’s.

The article goes on in that vein, stating as fact all smears that have down the years been used to tarnish Kigali as if they were unquestionable fact.

One of the many slanders in the piece is where it quotes the recent “statement on Uganda, Rwanda relations” by Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa.

In it, Kutesa says as a country that has been “a target of terrorist attacks, with assassinations of sheiks, and other prominent people like Arua MP Ibrahim Abiriga”, Uganda has to remain vigilant.

Followers of the news will know Kutesa is alluding to Rwanda, as a result of endless unproven allegations and Kampala propaganda that “a neighbouring state” has been responsible for the assassinations. But objective analysts in both Kigali and Kampala know this is mere scapegoating.

The political assassinations are the work of Kampala itself when one considers the manner they are carried out; the head of state always appearing at the murder scene himself and carrying away key witnesses; and the simple fact that even with all the lavishly funded security agencies, they never produce a single suspect.

An analyst in Kigali, talking anonymously, wondered: why would Minister Kutesa bring up specific names of Ugandan opposition politicians killed in Uganda, whom Ugandan media reported as having been killed by their own system?

The analyst also wondered why Uganda does not want peace and cooperation.

“Are things so bad in Uganda that they need a permanent scapegoat? Do they have to fabricate a permanent bogeyman?”

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

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