26 June 2012

Rwanda: Ingabire's Opposition Party Torn in Two

Kigali — While the Rwandan opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire, awaits her verdict on whether she aided and abetted terrorism, her party has broken into two. The sides are now engaged in a war of words that include such terms as 'traitors' and 'amateurs'.

The old comrades of the president of the United Democratic Forces (UDF), Victoire Ingabire, have failed to transcend their differences. They have split up into two different camps that are now accusing each other of treason.

Without waiting for the verdict of the trial of their leader, one group has just appointed an interim president, Eugene Ndahayo, who is based in France. The group explained in a press release that they took this decision because the regime in Kigali was determined to keep Ingabire behind bars "in the hope that the UDF will find itself without real leadership to continue the fight" against Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Major crisis

In a recent newsletter, Ndahayo did not hesitate to refer to the other side as amateurs. "The divergence of views on the conduct of business, which then turned into a major crisis of values, is simply called: amateurism and a lack of political maturity," he said.

Ndahayo also castigated UDF's partnership with the Rwandan National Congress (RNC), a party created by defectors from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of President Kagame. These former comrades-in-arms of the strong man of Kigali include former Chief of Staff of the Army, General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, exiled in South Africa, and the former Director of Cabinet of the President, Theogene Rudasingwa, who lives in the US.

This alliance violates the founding principles of the UDF because some RNC leaders have blood on their hands, according to Ndahayo. "Since some leaders, entangled in a deadlock that they caused themselves, joined with a network of criminals who are trying to build up some respectability. [...] We have seen an increasing number of strange manoeuvres in the universe of political opposition," he wrote.

"The fact that some leaders of the RNC have broken off relations with Kagame does not absolve the blood they carry on their hands," said Ndahayo in an interview with Radio Netherland Worldwide. He also announced the holding in the near future of "an international party convention [...] to put in place an elected leadership, among other things, drawn from local committees themselves and elected by the full members."

Power grab

The second camp, which describes Ndahayo's side as "dissident" and "putschist", is headed by Boniface Twagirimana who lives in Rwanda. It is represented abroad by Nkiko Nsengimana who lives in Switzerland. Twagirimana denounced, in a recent press release, "this power grab intended to politically isolate the party president before the verdict of her political trial."

The appointment of an interim president "reveals them as traitors in a hurry to abandon to hostile hands a woman, a mother, a comrade in struggle and their leader. [...] Why could they not wait for the verdict to ensure that proper measures were taken to ensure continuity and in the interest of the party?" wondered Twagirimana.

According to Twagirimana, Ndahayo and his group "have automatically excluded themselves" from the party. "Their use of the party's titles and emblems will now be considered a sham. We ask all our partners and friends to be careful with these thieves and bad losers with no ethics," he adds.

The verdict in Ingabire's trial is currently set for Friday 29 June.

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