Steven Kinzer needs to take another look at the Rwandan Fugitives

In his  January 27, 2011 article, Kagame’s authoritarian turn risks Rwanda’s future, published in The Guardian, Steven Kinzer seeks to articulate a position supporting what he refers to as the demands put forward by the four Rwandan fugitives, calling for what they describe as a “national dialogue with the aim of creating a new national partnership government”.

In his  January 27, 2011 article, Kagame’s authoritarian turn risks Rwanda’s future, published in The Guardian, Steven Kinzer seeks to articulate a position supporting what he refers to as the demands put forward by the four Rwandan fugitives, calling for what they describe as a “national dialogue with the aim of creating a new national partnership government”.

Mr. Kinzer recognizes that President Paul Kagame won re-election in August, on the basis of his record, where “Rwanda has emerged from devastation of genocide and become more secure and prosperous than anyone had a right to expect”. President Kagame won the elections owing, precisely, to the partnership that exists between the government and the people of Rwanda. It is a partnership that is reinforced by the very achievements Mr. Kinzer himself documents.

Steven Kinzer reminds his readers that a meeting of Communauté Economique des Pays des Grands Lacs (CEPGL) Security Chiefs warned that a new armed group is emerging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and was likely to create instability for Rwanda. Curiously, Mr. Kinzer omits to complete his statement, because he chooses to exclude a critical detail to the statement by the “regional leaders” that he refers to the fact that this armed group was created and is commanded by Kayumba Nyamwasa and Patrick Karegyeya.

He acknowledges that there are “ominous” reports that the newly created armed group in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) “might be collaborating with one or more of the newly sentenced signers of Rwanda Briefing”. As someone who has shown interest in the affairs of this region, Steven Kinzer should indeed, take seriously the announcement by the Great Lakes Security Chiefs that the Rwandan fugitives are putting together a force to destabilize the region.

Indeed, Mr. Kinzer overlooks the fact that a United Nations Group of Experts report recently concluded that Kayumba and Karegyeya are working closely with Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a regional terrorist organisation, that has been blacklisted by both the United Nations and the United States government. Top FDLR Commanders deserting the terrorist outfit ranks, have confirmed that the four Rwandan fugitives are up to the neck with their involvement and collaboration with FDLR.

Indeed, a Colonel who recently defected told journalists that Gerald Gahima, has now stepped forward to take over the role hither-to played by the FDLR leaders, currently jailed and facing various war crimes charges in Europe.

The four Rwandan fugitives have sought to portray themselves as politicians who disagreed with the government and chose to leave the country. However, each of these individuals decided to flee the country when they found themselves confronted with their own delinquent conduct and asked to account. Indeed, some of them lost their positions on account of evidence of serious crimes, presented by foreign authorities to the government of Rwanda. Available records, show that Patrick Karegyeya lost his job as head of external intelligence, after the British authorities provided proof of his involvement in money laundering to the government of Rwanda.

After he deserted the Rwanda Defence Forces, a serious crime in itself, Kayumba Nyamwasa along with Patrick Karegyeya have elected to join forces with FDLR a terrorist organisation, as documented by the United Nations Group of Experts.

In its June 28th, 2008 issue, the Bosnia Daily, a Bosnian newspaper, that carried out comprehensive research and documented Gerald Gahima’s delinquent past, reported that “The abrupt end of his political career came after a series of articles in the independent Umuseso newspaper, which alleged that Gahima had bad debts and questionable loan practices. The newspaper found Gahima’s name on a list of borrowers identified by National Bank as delinquent on commercial loans. The list which the newspaper shared with CIN, identified Gerald Gahima as a class 5 debtor for a 17 million FRw (31,000 USD) loan from BCR bank, and Equatoria Consult, which Gahima describes as a family business, a class 5 debtor of a 313 million FRw (572,000 USD) loan from BCDI bank. Under Rwandan banking law, commercial banks are warned to avoid lending class 5 debtors, who have failed to repay loans and are high-risk.”

Clearly, Gerald Gahima had been declared a delinquent by the National Bank of Rwanda at a time when he was the Vice-President of the Supreme Court, and he was increasingly becoming not only an embarrassment to the government, but a focus of public ridicule. He knew he was no longer in position to sit in judgment of others, as Deputy Chief Justice, when his own public conduct was the most disgraceful. Gahima’s record of misconduct is well documented and that’s how he ended up resigning his position as a judge at the Bosnia and Herzegovina War Crimes Court, a few months after he was hired. His past caught up with him when a US State Department report published in February 2005, revealed “misuse of office in personal bank transactions against Gahima, which report led to his resignation”.

For someone who has resigned on two occasions, from the position of judge, across two continents, on account of documented delinquency and abuse of office, to turn around and portray himself as an upright politician purporting to fight for the rights of the very people be oppressed and persecuted when he was still in office is a sad commentary. His side-kick, Theogene Rudasingwa, took a similar route after he was tried and acquitted of corruption, but with no prospect of being re-hired to high profile positions, he had come to believe he was entitled to.

Therefore, for Mr. Steven Kinzer and any other commentators, interested in Rwandan political affairs, should take another look at the Rwandan fugitives, before they take up their causes and they need to show some respect for Rwandan institutions.

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