Rwanda accuses President Yoweri Museveni of helping recruit and train Rwandan refugees with the goal of ousting Paul Kagame, according to a confidential report by Rwandan media.
In statements quoted by Rwandan news agency Rushyashya, pointed to the potential recruitment of refugees into non-state armed groups in Uganda led by a former head of Rwandan intelligence, Lieutenant-General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Without evidence to pin Uganda to the allegations, Rushyashya claims Rwanda’s leading diaspora-based opposition party, Rwanda National Congress (RNC) military bureau has assembled after its leaders met President Museveni and held closed-door talks in France last year to established a training camp in Kijuru Forest which shares a border with Kibaale and Kyenjojo districts. The report contains the strongest testimony yet that Uganda is meddling in Rwanda affairs and comes amid the worsening political fever ahead of presidential elections with Rwandans abroad will cast their votes on August 3, and those resident in Rwanda will follow suit on August 4.
But a more prickly issue is that the Government of Uganda and its close-knit security agencies are aware of the rebel activities in Kibaale but have decided to do nothing about it. Political analysts say that Kigali is watching the developments with the frosty relations between the two countries, following the military clashes between the RPF and UPDF in Kisangani, DR Congo in 1999/2000 still fresh in President Kagame’s mind.
The recruits are said to be at least 400 and being trained in the forest by several French Armed Forces’ Land Army (French: Armée de terre [aʀme də tɛʀ]
When asked whether Uganda is helping Rwanda rebels launch cross-border attacks, the deputy executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, Col (rtd) Shaban Bantariza, refused to deny or confirm the allegations but instead referred this reporter to Uganda’s Defence and Military spokesman Brig Richard Karemire who repeatedly declined to answer our calls.
Rushyashya also says that two other planning meetings were held in Charleroi, Belgium and Dallas, US that also had some Burundian army dissidents resolved to recruit youth to be taken for these trainings in the Ugandan forests with the aim of distabilizing the security of Rwanda by spending a lot of money on the locals through associations.
An officer from one of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) intelligence units who preferred anonymity said they had also received reports about the Rwandan rebels who disguise as boda boda riders in Kibaale town. According to sources in Rwanda, majority of the combatants come from Nyagatare, the largest and second most populous district (akarere) in Rwanda and other areas like Kayonza, Karangazi and Matimba. They left Rwanda under the disguise of fleeing from last year’s famine code-named ‘NZARAMBA’ back home and were welcomed by Kayumba’s agents after crossing the border at Cyanika in Kisoro District who transport them directly to Kibaale District.
The reports continue to say that Kayumba Nyamwasa, a Ugandan military officer before 1990 and President Museveni were recently reunited by one of Rwanda’s wealthiest men, Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, who the Ugandan leader has given a good ahead to set up a $20m tobacco development investment to be launched in May 2017 in Arua, Northern Uganda.
Now exiled in South Africa, Tribert Rujugiro is believed to be the main financier of Kayumba’s RNC rebel trainings alongside Washington-based chief strategist, Condo Gervias. Condo alongside Dr. Emmanuel Hakizamana do most of the diplomatic work, including looking for guns.
A former economic adviser of President Paul Kagame and strong supporter of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), Rujugiro fled Rwanda in 2009 after learning he was being investigated for quietly bankrolling the operations of anti-government groups in Rwanda and Diaspora.
This month, Gen David Muhoozi, the new Chief of Defence Forces, in apparent reference to similar allegations from Kinshasa accusing Kampala of aiding M23 rebels, whose military commander Sultan Makenga, mysteriously vanished from a round-the-clock UPDF watch in Uganda, said Uganda would never support belligerent forces to destabilise a neighbouring country.
Rwanda is due to hold a presidential election in August, which Kagame is widely expected to win. Presuming he is re-elected, a true test of Mr Kagame’s sincerity as a democrat will be his willingness to surrender power, as the constitution demands. Meanwhile he will be a formidable if fearsome operator, at home and abroad.
Unmasking Gen Kayumba, Museveni and Kagame’s ex-top aide
Once a close confidant of President Paul Kagame, Nyamwasa fled to South Africa this year after falling out with the president, later accusing him of using an anti-corruption campaign to frame opponents.
The flight of Nyamwasa, who fought alongside Kagame to end the 1994 genocide in the central African nation, was a sign of a growing rift between the president and some of his top aides.
During and after the war to end the genocide, Nyamwasa held a number of key positions, including army chief of staff and head of the country’s intelligence services.
Rwandan authorities still link Nyamwasa to a series of deadly grenade attacks in Kigali on 19 February 2010, and accuse him of nepotism and unlawful accumulation of wealth.
President Kagame threatened to crack down on several top army dissidents’ activities in 2010 and Lt Gen Nyamwasa felt increasingly under threat.
“After my departure, President Kagame addressed a press conference where he labelled Patrick Karegeya and I as ‘terrorists’,” he said in a statement.
“While passing out cadet officers in Gako, he called us ‘thieves’.
“In parliament he called us ‘flies’ whom he will crush with a hammer; with [the magazine] Jeune Afrique he called me a ‘traitor’.”
Nyamwasa was shot in the stomach in South Africa in June 2010 Several people arrested after the shooting were found to be Rwandan. Kayumba was recorded to have said that Kagame wants him dead because he challenges his dictatorial views. Nyamwasa’s wife stated that the attack was politically motivated. Al-Jazeera reported that “Rosette said they were in the parking lot of their home and a man came to the side of the car with a pistol and shot at her husband who managed to get out of the car and then there was a scuffle. The driver of the car then chased the assailant away.”
So exactly how true these Kayumba Nyamwasa rebel trainings in Kibaale District are, and whether they will lead to further unrest is difficult to tell.
But with its troubled past, the role of President Museveni in Rwandan politics (it is widely said Museveni played a big role in the October 1990 RPF invasion of Rwanda and Kagame joined his NRA bush war on day one) should not be underestimated.