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Friday, 1 November 2013

When territorial sovereignty violators cry foul when their own sovereignty is violated: Uganda protests D.R Congo’s recent bombing of its territory in pursuit of M23 rebels: Rwanda has also accused the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of firing bombs and rockets into its territory: Remember when Uganda was fined 18 trillion shillings ($10 billion) for violating the sovereignty of Dr.Congo

Uganda protests Congo aggression

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa

Uganda protests Congo aggression

Publish Date: Oct 31, 2013

By Cyprian Musoke
Government has protested the bombing of Ugandan territory by the DR Congo army helicopter on Wednesday,
in pursuit of M23 rebels.

In a diplomatic protest note presented to the DRC Embassy and the United Nations, by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, Uganda protested the violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The same helicopter fired shots from a machine gun injuring four Ugandans of Maziba village in Kisoro . Admitted at Mutolere hospital with severe injuries, the victims include a driver with the office of the prime minister.

During the  separate meetings at ministry headquarters, Kutesa said that Uganda,  will appreciate a formal explanation from the DRC Government and the United Nations on the circumstances surrounding the bombing of her territory. Mr. Jean Pierre Masala, Charge d’Affaires  represented DRC Embassy  while Ms. Birgit Gerstenberg, Country Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights led the UN team.

The Government of the Republic of Uganda expresses deep concern over the unprovoked violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty by the combined forces of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nations.

A FARDC Puma military helicopter flying along the border fired one bomb at Maziba Trading Centre in Bunagana. The same helicopter fired shots from a machine gun which in total injured four Ugandans, on 30th October, 2013 at about 1630 hrs.

Uganda protests in the strongest terms possible the violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty, as referenced above.

In this regard, the Government of the Republic of Uganda will appreciate a formal explanation from the DRC Government and the United Nations on the circumstances surrounding the bombing of her territory.

The Government of the Republic of Uganda has a duty and responsibility to protect its territory and her citizens, and therefore seeks assurances that such violations will not occur again.

 Congolese soldiers

 Congolese soldiers outside Goma: Rwanda claims the DRC has launched 34 attacks on its territory in the past week. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Rwanda accuses Congo of rocket attacks over border

M23 rebels declare ceasefire and say they have withdrawn from frontline but fears of conflict escalating remain

Congolese soldiers outside Goma: Rwanda claims the DRC has launched 34 attacks on its territory in the past week. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
Rwanda has accused the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of firing bombs and rockets into its territory, warning that "provocation can no longer be tolerated" and raising the prospect of all-out war. Such an outcome could result in the UN's first offensive force – whose arrival has inadvertently triggered the crisis – being dragged into a regional conflict or forced into a humiliating retreat.
The UN intervention brigade has been backing the Congolese army against the M23 rebel movement – alleged to be receiving support from Rwanda – in some of the most intense fighting of the past year near Goma in eastern Congo. There was hope of a respite on Friday when the M23 declared a ceasefire and said it had pulled back three miles from the frontline.


DR Congo unrest: Rwanda condemns 'bombing' 

A government soldier in DR Congo (15 July 2013)  
Congolese troops are backed by UN forces in their assault on rebels

Rwanda has accused government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo of deliberately shelling its territory, killing a woman and wounding her baby. 

Ten bombs fell on Rwandan territory on Thursday and the "provocation can no longer be tolerated", said Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

A Congolese army spokesman denied the allegations.

UN and Congolese forces have been pounding M23 rebels on the Congolese side of the border since last week. 

DR Congo and the UN accuse Rwanda of backing the M23, a charge it denies.

BBC Great Lakes service editor Ally Yusuf Mugenzi says that even when Rwanda twice invaded Congolese territory during the 1990s, it never made such strong accusations against the Congolese army.

South African snipers
Ms Mushikiwabo said 13 "bombs and rockets" were fired into Rwanda on Wednesday and 10 on Thursday.
This brought to 34 the number of attacks Congolese have carried out on Rwanda in the last month, she said.

Troublesome neighbours


  • April-June 1994: Hutu militias commit genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda
  • June 1994: Paul Kagame's Tutsi rebels take power in Rwanda, Hutus flee into Zaire (DR Congo)
  • Rwanda's army enters eastern Zaire to pursue Hutu fighters
  • 1997: Laurent Kabila's AFDL, backed by Rwanda, takes power in Kinshasa
  • 1998: Rwanda accuses Kabila of not acting against Hutu rebels and tries to topple him, sparking five years of conflict
  • 2003: War officially ends but Hutu and Tutsi militias continue to clash in eastern DR Congo
  • 2008: Tutsi-led CNDP rebels march on North Kivu capital, Goma - 250,000 people flee
  • 2009: Rwanda and DR Congo agree peace deal and CNDP integrated into Congolese army
  • 2012: Mutiny led by former CNDP fighters, now known as M23
The "persistent shelling" was unacceptable, Ms Mushikiwabo added.
"Rwandan civilians are being targeted by DRC forces. We have remained restrained for as long as we can but this provocation can no longer be tolerated," she said.

"We have the capacity to determine who fired at us and will not hesitate to defend our territory."
Congolese army spokesman Col Olivier Hamuli told the BBC that his forces would never fire at civilian populations.

"That could only be rebels," he said, adding that M23 fighters, and not soldiers, were in the area from which the shells were fired.

France is seeking an emergency UN Security Council meeting following the latest upsurge in fighting, reports the AFP news agency.

At least 800,000 people have fled their homes in DR Congo since the M23 launched its rebellion in April 2012.

The UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo - known by its French initials, Monusco - is fighting alongside government forces.

UN forces have used attack helicopters to push back rebel fighters from positions near Goma.
The UN has deployed a new intervention brigade, made up of some 3,000 troops, to tackle the rebels.
It is the strongest mandate ever given to such a force by the UN Security Council, UN officials say.

South African snipers with the UN force have shot dead six rebel fighters during the latest clashes, a spokesman for the country's military union said, although the defence ministry could not confirm the figures.
On Wednesday, a UN peacekeeper was killed and three others wounded in fighting near eastern DR Congo's main city Goma, just across the border from Rwanda.

A UN spokesman in New York, Farhan Haq, would not give the nationalities of the casualties or supply further details.

Fighting last week reportedly left more than 80 people dead.
Rebels seized Goma in November 2012 but withdrew under diplomatic pressure.
The M23 is made up of deserters from the Congolese army.

They are mostly ethnic Tutsis, like Rwanda's leadership.
Eastern DR Congo has been wracked by conflict since 1994, when Hutu militias fled across the border from Rwanda after carrying out a genocide against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Uganda found guilty of invading and looting Congo

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Uganda violated the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Congo, plundered its natural resources and was responsible for human rights abuses when it sent its troops there. ICJ is the highest judicial organ of the United Nations; its ruling is final and cannot be appealed. The case has taken five years. Uganda´s defence has been led by the Attorney General, Dr Khiddu Makubuya.

This article, by Peter Nyanzi, was first published in today´s edition of the independent Ugandan newspaper the Daily Monitor. It has been edited for republication here.

In its judgement which was passed yesterday, the Hague-based court found that Uganda failed to ensure that its soldiers respected DRC’s natural resources. "Given the character of the internationally wrongful acts for which Uganda has been found responsible, the Court considers that those acts resulted in injury to the DRC and to persons on its territory. Consequently, the Court finds that Uganda has an obligation to make reparation for the injury caused. The Court considers appropriate the request of the DRC for the nature, form and amount of the reparation due to it to be determined by the Court, failing agreement between the Parties, in a subsequent phase of the proceedings," ruled the court. Congo wants Uganda to pay 18 trillion shillings ($10 billion).

-10 billion dollars, please. That´s what you owe us
Makubuya was still in The Hague yesterday. His deputy, Mr Adolf Mwesige, confirmed that his office had received a copy of the ruling. "We have just received the 100-page ruling. We are studying it and after that we shall inform the public in due course," he said. The Director of Uganda Media Centre Mr Robert Kabushenga said the ruling was unusual as it did not go into the specifics of the compensation question and left them to be sorted out politically by the two parties rather than judicially. But the Congolese authorities were very happy with the ruling which they say is now a warning to Rwanda and Burundi. "We are very happy that international law has finally listened to our case," Henri Mova Sakanyi, a spokesman for the Congolese government said shortly after the ruling, adding that Kinshasa would seek $6-10 billion in compensation from Uganda.

-Overstaying its welcome, Uganda also helped itself to DRC´s resources
In a unanimous decision, the court found that Uganda had an obligation to pay reparations, the details of which would be discussed at a later stage. The ruling, made at the sitting in the Great Hall of Justice of the Peace Palace in The Hague, was presided over by the President of the Court, Judge Shi Jiuyong and his deputy Raymond Ranjeva from Madagascar. It found that Uganda violated the principle of non-interference when it stayed in Congo after its welcome ended in 1998.

-DRC´s suggested compensation is appropriate, says ICJ
The 15-member ICJ panel also had justices Abdul Koroma (Sierra Leone), Vladlen Vereshchetin (Russia), Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom) and Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela). The others are Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands), Francisco Rezek (Brazil), Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan), Thomas Buergenthal (USA), Nabil Elaraby (Egypt), Hisashi Owada (Japan), Bruno Simma (Germany), Peter Tomka (Slovakia) and Ronny Abraham (France). It found that by engaging in military activities against the DRC on the latter´s territory, by occupying Ituri and by actively extending support to irregular forces in the DRC, Uganda violated the principle of non-use of force in international relations and the principle of non-intervention. Under court rules, Uganda has a chance to negotiate the amount and terms of the compensation directly with Kinshasa, but judges noted the amount sought by the DRC "was appropriate."

-A hefty fine, to say the least
Uganda mainly argued that its troops were in Congo as an act of self defence to neutralise rebels who were operating from there. But the court was mostly basing its decisions on the conduct of the soldiers while there, not so much the reason why they went there. Given the fact that Uganda´s foreign debt stands at over $4 billion, (the recently announced debt relief can take several years to implement, according to donor sources) the amount the country would have to compensate the DRC would treble the total debt burden. Currently Uganda spends about $200 million per year to service the debt, and at that rate would need 50 years to pay off the Congo fine without paying any of the other creditors. If all Uganda´s tax and non-tax revenue totaling to $700 million per year were to be devoted to paying off the Congo fine, it would take the country 14 years without the government buying a single aspirin or paying a single worker.

-But DRC has misbehaved, too
Seen another way, the amount Congo wants in compensation is enough to build at least 20 power dams of Bujagali´s size. Consequently, each of the 27 million Ugandans, including babies in the IDP camps in the north must contribute Shs680,000 to the compensation bill. Added to the existing debt, every Ugandan would now be owing a million shillings to external creditors. Uganda has also received some slight favourable judgement in The Hague: ICJ ordered the DRC to pay reparations for attacking the Ugandan Embassy in Kinshasa, maltreatment of Ugandan diplomats and other nationals which it said violated the Vienna Convention. The 16-judge panel ruled that Ugandan troops had committed "acts of torture and killing" against Congolese civilians, "trained child soldiers" and "incited ethnic conflict".

-You are guilty of occupation, violations of sovereignty, illegal use of force, violations of international human rights laws and of looting and plunder
Ugandan troops "created an atmosphere of terror pervading the life of the Congolese people," ICJ President Shi Jiuyong ruled. The court added that Uganda had been found guilty of notably "occupation of the Ituri region in the DRC, violations of sovereignty, illegal use of force, violations of international human rights laws and looting and plunder" between August 1997 and June 2003. The Court said the objectives of “Operation Safe Haven", as stated in a Ugandan High Command document issued on September 11, 1998, were not consonant with the concept of self-defence as understood in international law.

-They would not listen. Now the chicken are coming back to roost
Gulu Municipality MP, Norbert Mao, who was a strong critic of the Ugandan army deployment into the DRC, said he was "not surprised" by the ICJ ruling. "We have generally not been good neighbours. In Parliament, we strongly opposed the deployment of our troops into the DRC but they could not listen to us. Now the chicken are coming back to roost," he said. The ICJ ruling follows a June 23, 1999 application by the DRC instituting proceedings in the international court against Uganda for "acts of armed aggression perpetuated in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and of the Charter of the OAU". The DRC accused Uganda of responsibility for human rights abuses and armed aggression and calling for compensation for what is said were acts of looting, destruction and removal of property.

-Four million people perished in eight years
Hearing of the case ended in July 2005 and Dr Makubuya has made several trips to The Hague to defend Uganda. Justice Minister Mr Honorius Kisimba Ngoy Ndalewe led the DRC delegation. He complained that Uganda had illegally entered its territory and plundered its wealth of natural resources, including minerals, under the guise of chasing rebels that had been attacking it from DRC bases. Four million people are said to have perished in DRC´s eight year instability. Rwanda and Uganda say they entered Congo to neutralise Interahamwe and ADF rebels respectively. Initially, the two countries were welcomed by the late President Desire Kabila but later fell out with the DRC government. In 2002, a UN panel of experts issued a report in which it accused several Ugandan top army officers and companies of massive plunder of the DRC´s natural resources. However, a commission of inquiry chaired by Justice David Porter, which was set up by President Yoweri Museveni to look into the allegations, exonerated the officers.

-DRC ´a conservation area´ for rebel forces fighting Uganda
While addressing the UN Security Council a week ago, Uganda´s Ambassador to the UN, Mr Francis Butagira, blamed the United Nations Security Council for not taking action against "negative forces" operating in the DRC, which he said had become a "conservation area" for rebel forces fighting Uganda. In September, Uganda said LRA rebels had crossed from Sudan into northeastern DRC. President Museveni warned that UPDF would pursue them into DRC unless the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) took action against them. The United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, issued a stern warning to Uganda against the act saying it would be a violation of international law.


Will Uganda Pay Up for Congo Occupation?

Official says Kampala may never pay reparations despite the international court ruling on the Ugandan occupation of Ituri province. 


31 Jul 07 

As Uganda prepares to start negotiating with the Democratic Republic of Congo about reparations for plundering its neighbour’s resources and committing atrocities there between 1996 and 2001, a senior official in Kampala has suggested the talks may end with no payment being made.

In December 2005, the International Court of Justice, ICJ, in The Hague found the Ugandan state guilty of killing and torturing civilians, destroying villages and plundering natural resources during its five-year occupation of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.

DRC claimed reparations of ten billion US dollars, but the compensation has to be worked out through bilateral negotiations between the two states.

Analysts say it will be nearly impossible to enforce a compensation ruling, while experts on international law warn that the negotiating process could be so protracted that a settlement might take many years to conclude.

The DRC’s case against Uganda to the ICJ alleged that Kampala was responsible for atrocities against civilians and plundering of its resources when it sent its troops to the north-east of the country, ostensibly to fight insurgents of northern Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army who it said were based there.
Kinshasa argued that Uganda entered and occupied its territory illegally.

The ICJ is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations, and has operated in The Hague since 1946, resolving legal disputes between sovereign states. It is not to be confused with the Hague-based International Criminal Court, ICC, which began work only in 2002, and focuses on war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In their 2005 ruling, ICJ judges held that Uganda violated Congo’s sovereignty by invading it, occupying territory in the northeastern province of Ituri, and providing military, financial and logistical support to Congolese rebels within the country between 1998 and 2002. The court also held that Uganda was responsible for the looting of gold, diamonds and silver and for human rights abuses carried out by Ugandan armed forces, including killings, torture and the training of child soldiers.

The ICJ ordered Uganda to “make reparation…for the injury caused”, but did not state a specific sum. Instead, the two countries were asked to negotiate an agreement and then go back to the ICJ.
“That figure [10 billion dollars] was named but it was not conclusive," Ugandan regional cooperation minister Isaac Musumba told IWPR. "It will be discussed and arbitrated again.

“What people should know is that we are moving towards the normalisation of diplomatic relations. We are working with the government of Congo and our presidents have talked. When they come, we will discuss. There is a likelihood that things will not escalate into problems, and we may even agree not to pay.”
Both Uganda and Rwanda sent troops into what was then Zaire, removed the government of the late Mobutu Sese Seko and installed Laurent Kabila as president of DRC in 1997. Even though Kabila subsequently fell out with Rwanda and Uganda, both countries kept troops deployed in much of the east and northeast of the country.

Laurent Kabila was assassinated in January 2001 and was succeeded by his son Joseph Kabila, who is the current president of DRC.

Both Rwanda and Uganda were accused of looting DRC’s vast mineral and forest resources, and of arming various rival militias which resulted in ethnic slaughter in the Ituri region.
The scale of the communal slaughter in Ituri has been compared in intensity if not scale with the violence seen in nearby Rwanda in 1994.

Lendu agriculturalists in Ituri regard themselves as kin to Rwanda’s Hutus, while the cattle-herding Hema identify with the Tutsis. Just as the Hutus and the Tutsis fell into murderous conflict in Rwanda, the Lendu and Hema followed their example. Out of a population of about four million in Ituri, the United Nations estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed in militia-led warfare since 1999, while half a million have been forced to flee their homes, encountering further violence in their flight.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, leader of a Hema militia called the Union of Congolese Patriots, was arrested and placed in custody by the DRC authorities following the killing and mutilation in February 2005 of nine Bangladeshi soldiers who were part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Ituri.

The ICC was asked by DRC’s government to investigate the situation in eastern Congo, and as a result Lubanga was sent to The Hague in March 2006. He is due to stand trial at the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The bewilderingly complex inter-ethnic conflict in Ituri – which extends beyond the Hema and Lendu to encompass at least 18 other groups such as the Bira, Gegere and Ngiti – was exacerbated by the Ugandan army, which backed the Hema when it virtually annexed the province in 1999 and plundered the region’s rich mineral deposits.

Human Rights Watch has accused Uganda of playing "both arsonist and fireman" in Ituri.
"During its four years occupying the northeastern DRC, the Ugandan army claimed to be a peacemaker in a region torn by ethnic strife," said the New York-based group. "In reality, the Ugandan army provoked political confusion and created insecurity in areas under its control. From its initial involvement in a land dispute between the Hema and Lendu, the Ugandan army more often aggravated than calmed ethnic and political hostilities."

Human Rights Watch estimates that the Ugandan military stole more than nine million dollars’ worth of Ituri gold between 1999 and 2003.

"Uganda is the number one gold-exporting country in this area without having a single gold mine. Tell me how that happens?" said a military intelligence official with the United Nations, who added that Ituri's militias continue to feed the illegal trade.

As a result of international pressure, Uganda withdrew its soldiers from DRC in 2003, and United Nations peacekeepers were deployed there.

Although the ICJ required that reparations be made, and indicated that it would rule on the matter should the two states fail to reach agreement, it remains far from clear how much – if anything – the Ugandan government will end up paying.

“Congo took Uganda to the ICJ on grounds of economic and political meddling on its territory by Uganda," Godfrey Wanzira, a Kampala-based expert in international law, told IWPR. "The gist of the whole issue is that the DRC prayed for reparations.”

Although DRC lawyers made what Wanzira calls “tentative mention” of 10 billion dollars, the fact that no settlement has been imposed or agreed means there is scope for the parties in the dispute both to negotiate and to fall out.

“It has left the parties to negotiate, leaving room for a political settlement. The ICJ judges left areas hanging. A negotiated settlement might result, but if Uganda openly or indirectly fails to pay, this will start a series of diplomatic problems,” he said.

Wanzira said the ICJ had legal powers to make pronouncements about enforcing a settlement. "But how would the DRC's lawyers enforce the payments?" he asked. "Would they sell Uganda’s assets in the Congo? Legally, it's possible to enforce an ICJ judgement but practically it is impossible to enforce. This could lead to a souring of relations or even war.”

The lawyer noted that there were many similar pending judgements elsewhere in the world, and many of them ended in political settlements and trade-offs by the governments involved, rather than pay-outs.
"Uganda may plead that the amount is too high and it will take years and years to reach an agreeable amount,” he added.

Ugandan officials say they previously held off on embarking on negotiations because they were waiting for an elected government in Kinshasa.

In 2006, DRC held its first democratic elections in at least 40 years, which saw a new parliament elected last July and Joseph Kabila voted in as president in an October run-off.

"The Ugandan government has not paid any money to the DRC ever since the international court made the ruling since by that time [December 2005], there was no elected government,” information minister Ali Kirunda Kivejinja told IWPR. “We have all along waited for an elected government in the DRC."
In Wanzira’s view, though, DRC officials may well suspect that Kampala will never pay reparations. Instead, he believes, they may have brought the ICJ case for “symbolic reasons, to make a point that these people were wrong to occupy our territory”.

Henry Wasswa is an IWPR contributor in Uganda.

Former Rwandan army chief shot in South Africa

Wife of Kayumba Nyamwasa accuses Rwandan president Paul Kagame of orchestrating assassination attempt

 File photo of former Rwandan army chief Kayumba Nyamwasa
December 2000 image of the then Rwandan army chief, Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has been shot by a lone gunman in South Africa. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images
South African police have arrested six suspects after the exiled former Rwandan army chief was shot in what his wife claims was an assassination attempt ordered by the Rwandan government.

Lieutenant General Kayumba Nyamwasa is recovering in hospital after being shot in the stomach by a lone gunman as he returned to his home in Johannesburg's northern suburbs on Saturday.

Both his wife, Rosette Nyamwasa, and the Rwandan opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire, accused President Paul Kagame of orchestrating the hit as political tensions rise ahead of the country's elections in August. The Rwandan government has dismissed the charge as "preposterous".

Nyamwasa fought alongside Kagame to end Rwanda's 1994 genocide but the pair have recently fallen out. Nyamwasa has accused the president of corruption and fled to South Africa in February. Rwandan officials have accused Nyamwasa of terrorism and trying to destabilise the government.

South African police spokesman Govindsamy Mariemuthoo refused to disclose whether the suspects arrested today were Rwandan or discuss possible motives. Press reports in South Africa suggested one of those arrested is a former Rwandan soldier who has known Nyamwasa for a long time.

Nyamwasa and his wife were being driven in a black BMW into the gated community where they live when a man followed them on foot, the Times of South Africa reported. The man struck the driver's side window, screaming: "Stop, stop, stop."

The driver opened the window halfway but continued driving, the paper said, quoting a source: "The man clung on to the window while the car was moving. He then pulled out a firearm, cocked it and fired a single shot at Nyamwasa."

Rosette Nyamwasa was quoted as saying that the man tried to fire a second shot but the gun jammed. Reports suggested that Nyamwasa and the driver struggled with the man, who then fled. Nyamwasa was taken to hospital and is in intensive care.

"I think it was our government," Rosette Nyamwasa reportedly said. "He [Kagame] must be behind it. He wants us dead … I don't have proof … but we've been harassed for such a long time."
Ingabire, who wants to challenge Kagame in the presidential election, described the shooting as a planned assassination attempt.

"This incident is a nefarious conspiracy for disruption of peace in Rwanda, a country sinking deeply into a political and military crisis," Ingabire said. "The lack of political space, the arrest of opposition leaders, lawyers and senior military officers, the use of violence and all kinds of intimidation of dissenting voices are obvious signs of a country on the brink of chaos."

Kigali denied any involvement in the shooting.
"The government of Rwanda does not condone violence, and we wish the family strength and serenity," the Rwandan foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, said. "We trust in the ability of South African authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly."

Rwandan officials say they have linked Nyamwasa to three grenade attacks in Kigali on 19 February that killed one person and wounded 30 others. South African police said earlier this year they had not arrested Nyamwasa because they do not have an extradition treaty with Rwanda.

Rwandan General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa Testifies over shooting

June 21, 2012

Rwandan former Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa gestures from the witness box in a court in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Nyamwasa, a critic of his former boss Rwandan President Paul Kagame, took the stand as a witness Wednesday, making his first public appearance since he was shot and wounded in Johannesburg in 2010.

JOHANNESBURG (AP)  In a sensational trial that might confirm or debunk suspicions Rwanda has deployed hit teams against dissidents abroad, a former Rwandan military commander who had a falling out with the country’s president testified Wednesday that he feared becoming a prisoner in his homeland before fleeing to South Africa, where he was shot.

Three Rwandans and three Tanzanians are charged with trying to kill Gen. Faustin  Kayumba Nyamwasain 2010. Rwanda’s former military chief was shot on June 19, 2010, in his car when he and his wife were returning home from shopping. Assassins then allegedly tried to finish the job after Nyamwasa was hospitalized.

Rwandan authorities have repeatedly denied involvement. Last year, British police warned Rwandan exiles in Britain that their lives were in danger, and the threat was believed to have emanated from the Rwandan government. In Sweden earlier this year, a Rwandan diplomat was expelled because he was engaged in “refugee espionage,” according to a person close to the Swedish government.

At the trial in Johannesburg, a South African lawyer hired by Rwanda’s government to monitor the proceedings rose to speak after the prosecutor told the court he wanted Nyamwasa to describe his background. Gerhard van der Merwe, Rwanda’s lawyer, said that could lead to speculation about government involvement.

“The consequences in doing that could be severe,” van der Merwe said.

Magistrate Stanley Mkhari ordered van der Merwe to remain silent for rest of the trial because “the government of Rwanda is not a party to the process.”

Since coming to South Africa in 2010, Nyamwasa has accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of crushing dissent and trampling on democracy after the two worked together to end the 1994 Rwanda genocide that left more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead. Rwandans in exile have accused Kagame of using his agents to hunt down his foes abroad.

Security has been tight throughout the year-long proceedings, with heavily armed police officers in the court. For the first time Wednesday, the officers cleared the court and brought in sniffer dogs to search it before the general began his testimony

Kagame led the Rwandan Patriotic Front to victory in Rwanda in 1994, ending the genocide. Nyamwasa served in Kagame’s security apparatus and was army chief from 1998 to 2001, when he left to study global security in Britain. He later was appointed Rwanda’s national security coordinator and then ambassador to India.
In court Wednesday, as his wife and other supporters watched from the gallery, Nyamwasa described returning from India for his mother’s funeral and to attend a governing party meeting in 2010.

“The purpose of the meeting was to harass me,” he said, saying he was accused of defying party discipline for actions that in some cases dated back years. He said he had opposed moves against Hutu politicians who had joined the post-genocide government, seeing attacks on leading Hutus as undermining unity and reconciliation.

He said he was asked to write a letter of apology, and that he had seen such letters used to discredit others, and even as evidence in court cases that resulted in jail terms.

“I recognized, first of all, that I would be arrested, and that after the arrest, I would not be granted due process of law,” he testified Wednesday.
He said he told party officials he would write the letter and present it to Kagame the next day. He said he never intended to write theletter.
“I left the country and fled,” he recounted.
He was not asked whether he believes the Rwandan government was behind the attempt to kill him.
Edited by Francis Rwema
Rwanda’s General Nyamwasa in SA ‘murder plot’ evidence

A former Rwandan army chief who survived two assassination attempts has given evidence at the trial of  those accused of plotting to kill him.

Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa fled to South Africa in 2010 after falling out with his former ally, Rwandan  President Paul Kagame.

Months later he survived a Johannesburg shooting, which Rwanda denied being involved in. A second plot was foiled.
He is a witness at the attempted murder trial in Johannesburg.

A lawyer representing Rwanda’s government raised an objection on the grounds that Gen Nyamwasa’s testimony could be political.
However, magistrate Stanley Mkhari dismissed the objection, which was raised as the former army chief prepared to tell the court about his background, because “the government of Rwanda is not a party to the process”.

Gen Nyamwasa has told the court about his early life and career in what is thought to be his first public appearance since the attempts to kill him.

The former Rwandan army chief was shot in the stomach as he was being driven back to his home in Johannesburg in June 2010 and taken to hospital, where a second attempt on his life was foiled by South African intelligence.

Rwanda has denied accusations it was involved.

Prior to their falling out, Gen Nyamwasa and the Rwandan president had been close allies.

He helped Mr Kagame to come to power and was appointed army chief of staff in 1998.
But their relationship soured and he was accused of undermining President Kagame, who some critics say runs a repressive regime.

Rwandans have linked Gen Nyamwasa to a series of grenade attacks in the country’s capital, Kigali.
Last year a Rwandan military court sentenced Gen Nyamwasa to 24 years in jail for threatening state security.

Rwanda has pushed South Africa to extradite him to serve the sentence