Who shot Kayumba?
Rightly or wrongly, Rwanda’s de facto one-party state has a reputation for brutality and lawlessness, and this latest episode will only increase it.
Lt Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a critic of Rwanda’s president, remains in a critical condition after being shot outside his Johannesburg home.
Rosette Nyamwasa said it was an assassination attempt as the lone gunman had made no demand for money or goods before shooting her husband.
Rwanda’s government denies the claim, saying it does not condone violence.
Lt Gen Nyamwasa was shot in the stomach and has been undergoing surgery in a Johannesburg clinic.
BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says that since leaving Kigali in February, Lt Gen Nyamwasa had been a thorn in the flesh of President Paul Kagame, whom he accuses of corruption
Once a close ally of Paul Kagame, and a senior figure within the RPF forces which defeated the genocidal government of 1994 (whilst also committing a series of atrocities in their own right), Nyamwasa recently fled the country and became a vocal critic of Kagame’s harsh, authoritarian rule.
Kagame gets an extraordinarily good write-up in the British and US media, which I find surprising given his government’s track record since 1994. More than five million people are believed to have died in the vicious resource war in the Democratic Republic of Congo – a war in which Kagame and his forces are deeply implicated. The press in Rwanda is very tightly controlled, and it is difficult for any genuinely independent opposition party to operate freely. During Kagame’s time in power, a number of his critics have been murdered overseas, and many others inside Rwanda have been killed or “disappeared”.
Britain is one of Rwanda’s most generous international donors, and we have also supplied military support. During his time as Rwandan army chief, Kayumba Nyamwasa visited the UK for military training – I know this because I met him briefly during such a visit in 2001 and he talked about it.
I hope that Kayumba makes a good recovery. I can’t imagine that South Africa – another key UK ally in the region – will take kindly to terrorist attacks being carried out on their territory. Rwanda will, of course, deny all responsibility, but they do have form in this area. According to Kayumba’s wife, Rosette Nyamwasa:
“[Mr Kagame] said it in parliament that he will actually kill my husband, that wherever he is he will follow him and kill him,”
A rethink of the UK’s relationship with this dubious regime seems long overdue…