Rwanda has refused to be drawn into a war of words with renegade Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Reacting to the General’s comments in an interview he gave to Voice of America from his South African exile, the country’s High Commissioner here, Mr Frank Mugambagye, told Saturday Monitor on Friday that: “We better stick to what the government has said. The President (Paul Kagame) gave a statement and the minister [for foreign affairs Loiuse Mushikiwabo] has done the same. We cannot respond to everything Kayumba is saying”.
Mr Mugambagye’s response came hours after Police in Kigali had confirmed they were investigating Thursday night’s bomb blasts that left 16 people injured. Two simultaneous grenade attacks were reported; the first taking place in Kimironko close to the taxi park, while the other occurred at Kinamba on the way to Gisozi Genocide Memorial Centre during heavy rain.
According to The Rwanda Times, the official government paper, it was not clear by press time who was behind the attacks.
“We are still investigating the case, details will be released later,” Rwanda Police Spokesman Eric Kayiranga was quoted by the paper yesterday.
The Kimironko attack injured 12 people who were rushed to Kibagabaga Hospital while the Kinamba attack left four with minor injuries.
Thursday’s attacks come barely two weeks after a similar incident left two people dead and many injured in Kigali. It also came at a time when President Paul Kagame’s hold onto power in Kigali is coming under the spotlight with the latest reports of internal strife spreading across the region.
President Kagame on Wednesday told a press conference in Kigali that his country has the capacity to guarantee that the peace and security Rwandans have enjoyed for the last 16 years is maintained.
“A security incident will happen anywhere in this world, even in developed modern systems and countries where they have resources and capabilities,” Gen. Kagame was quoted by the state newspaper, Rwanda Times on Thursday.
“In our case, with the modest capabilities and absolutely more than enough commitment, we are more than ready to use these modest capabilities to ensure that the country; the people of Rwanda are secure and safe,”
He added: “The security forces of our country understand their obligations. They are not just reminded by incidents that take place, it is their responsibility. They are always ready to ensure that nothing happens, and if it happens, they deal with it,” Gen. Kagame told journalists.
Saturday Monitor has heard from sources that days before the former army chief of staff of Rwanda, Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, fled the country through Ugandan, en route to South Africa where he is currently holed up, there was suspicion that certain elements were planning to move against the government. This claim could not, however, be independently verified.
The officer stands accused of “serious crimes” by Kigali, not least allegations that together with another renegade in exile Col. Patrick Karegeya, he may have had something to do with explosions that have rocked the city recently.
Lt. Gen. Nyamwasa , who until he fled was Rwanda’s ambassador to India, joins a growing list of former senior Rwandan army officers who in recent years have fallen out with President Kagame -- and ultimately left the left country.
In 2007, Col. Karegeya, also fled to Uganda and then to South Africa.
President Kagame on Thursday re-affirmed his country’s commitment in having both army officials brought back to Kigali to face the law.
“By the way, it is not South Africa alone. We are aware of other countries in the region where Karegeya has been travelling transacting these activities he is accused of with Kayumba. We will be addressing this matter ... to ensure that these people who have such serious crimes don’t find sanctuary in any of these countries,” President Kagame said.
Other officers who have fled Rwanda after being accused of committing serious crimes, but who insist they are victims of state persecution include; Theoneste Musindashaka (July 27, 2009), Senator Stanley Safari (June 2, 2009), Lt. Col. Sam Baguma (April 2009).
Capt. Evaris, Capt. Eliphaz Ndikuyezu, Capt. Claude Bizimungu, Capt. John Uwintari, Capt. John Bosco Muhizi, Capt. Theobal Gakumba, Capt. John Ontabuka, Jean Pierre Kagubare reportedly all left around June 2009. Col. Patrick Karegyeya (2006) and Maj.Gen. Emmanuel Habyarimana (2004).
Sources in Kigali now say that Jean Pierre Bizimana, Rwandan envoy to the Netherlands, is also under suspicion over the issue of having granted present vocal opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a Rwandan passport. Ms Ingabire who has been out of the country for over 16 years, returned last month and she is aspiring to run for president in the coming election.
Ms Ingabire is chairperson for the United Democratic Forces, which is an outspoken critic of the current regime. It is alleged that this group could be linked to the rebel DR Congo Hutu militia, FDLR.