Why I returned to Rwanda - Uwizeyimana, a known detractor shares his story

Evode Uwizeyimana, a former judge who returned to the country last month after a seven-year self-imposed exile in Canada, yesterday broke the silence about why he finally chose to return home. Uwizeyimana was widely known for attacking the Government of Rwanda on the Kinyarwanda/Kirundi radio broadcasts by the BBC and Voice of America.
Evode Uwizeyimana speaks to journalists in Kigali yesterday. Edwin Musoni.
Evode Uwizeyimana speaks to journalists in Kigali yesterday. Edwin Musoni.

Evode Uwizeyimana, a former judge who returned to the country last month after a seven-year self-imposed exile in Canada, yesterday broke the silence about why he finally chose to return home.

Uwizeyimana was widely known for attacking the Government of Rwanda on the Kinyarwanda/Kirundi radio broadcasts by the BBC and Voice of America.

Speaking to journalists in Kigali yesterday, Uwizeyimana said his decision to return to Rwanda was personal and that he did not want to keep living a deceitful life.

The former judicial practitioner became the talk of town after news of his return started spreading.

At every moment he got on air, he would criticise Kigali fervently on every policy or decision it made.

Many were surprised that a man who would refer to the country’s leadership as ‘a gang of armed bandits’ would turn around and want to work with the same government he loathed so much.

But Uwizeyimana told journalists yesterday that he would like to retract all the comments he made, adding that he did not believe in what he said, and that he was doing his job as a paid analyst for BBC.

“A lot of what I said was malicious and false. I had a contract with BBC to work for them as a legal expert. There is no single moment that I approached the press to make a statement. They had to call me and I got paid for my services,” he said.

He declined to disclose how much he was being paid for the job.

Uwizeyimana disclosed that he had close working relationship with Rwandan fugitives and disgruntled politicians who fled Rwanda and they would constantly plot to tarnish the image of the country and dreamt of changing the government.

“I had links to people who were fighting the Rwandan government, a battle that has no cause.”

He added that since his return, his former allies abroad have resorted to blackmailing him.

“There is too much blackmailing. Information is being circulated about my return. The RNC (organisation created by Rwandan dissidents) is retrieving and airing statements I made about Kigali government to provoke the authorities here (in Rwanda) to arrest me…”

Uwizeyimana arrived in Rwanda early in January after securing a consultancy job with the Ministry of Justice to conduct a Universal Periodic Review of the domestic implementation of International Human Rights Instruments that Rwanda is signatory to, and to also draft Rwanda National Action Plan on Human Rights.  

He explained that his recruitment was purely based on merit. “If anyone thinks I was bought off they should prove that I don’t qualify for this job,” he said.

Uwizeyimana further told reporters that among the reasons he had a change of heart was because the so-called political parties based abroad that claim to be in opposition are so weak, lack focus, and are grappling with internal wrangles and selfish interests.

“The political parties operate like kiosks; someone wakes up one morning and posts a statement on the internet that he has started a party. A case in point is RNC, which is just a few hours older that RDI – a party that belongs to (former premier Faustin) Twagiramungu. Twagiramungu attended THE conference that set up RNC. However, he was kicked out due to misunderstandings and he immediately posted a statement on the internet announcing forming his own party,” he said. “I found no reason to keep up with unfocused groups.”

The former judge told reporters that when he fled the Rwanda, the country was still trying to build strong institutions.

“Today the country has already achieved that and the government is now working to ensure sustainability. People here are working for development and I want to be part of this good cause.” Uwizeyimana said.

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