26 April 2012

Rwanda: Theogene Rudasingwa Speaks His Mind to RNW

Theogene Rudasingwa, the former right-hand man of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, testified last Friday in Paris. His hearing is part of France's second investigation into the 1994 downing of a plane carrying former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. This week, Radio Netherlands Worldwide spoke to Rudasingwa.

Since his exile in 2005, Rudasingwa has accused Kagame - a fellow Tutsi in the diaspora - of being responsible for the shooting of Habyarimana's plane. Many consider the attack of 6 April 1994 the catalyst of the Rwandan genocide. According to UN figures, the mass killings left nearly 800,000 dead, most of them ethnic Tutsis.

Speaking to RNW by phone from the United States, where he now lives, Rudasingwa refused to discuss in detail the fresh examination by French judges. However, he had other insights to share.

"Several other Rwandan witnesses are ready to be heard," he began. "But measures should be taken to protect them because Kagame wants to eliminate all those who have information on this attack."

Death threats

"I myself am aware of the threats on my life, but there are times when one needs to gather his courage to tell the truth," Rudasingwa continued.

He explained to RNW that the "gravity of the issue" justified the risk.

"People need to tell the truth. As long as lies and impunity reign in Rwanda, there will be no justice in Rwanda. There must be justice for all Rwandans," he said.

Last year, Rwandan ambassador to the Netherlands Immaculate Uwanyiligira denied any alleged threats on members of the Rwandan diaspora.


"The main perpetrator of this attack must be punished for the sake of justice, unity and reconciliation of Rwandans," said Rudasingwa. It is Kagame who ordered to shoot down the plane, thereby triggering the genocide. Perpetrators of the genocide [of Tutsis] must be prosecuted and punished - not leaving out Kagame, who triggered it."

Habyarimana investigation

In 1998, France initiated an investigation into the plane attack, following complaints by the families of French crew members who died. In 2006, Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière concluded that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was responsible.

The investigation is now in the hands of Nathalie Poux and Marc Trevidic, the anti-terrorist judges who questioned Rudasingwa last week. Results of their requested ballistics test in September 2010 conducted in situ in Kigali are still awaited.

The Office of the Prosecution of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has always refused to look into the attack, claiming such investigation is not within its mandate. International human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are not convinced.

Active politician

Today Rudasingwa is an active member of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), which he created in exile with other former comrades-in-arms. Rudasingwa also served as secretary general of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), now in power, and was the Rwandan ambassador to the United States.

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