Hotel Rwanda ‘Hero’ Admits Forming Armed Group Behind Attacks

Paul Rusesabagina
“Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina in the pink inmate’s uniform arrives from the Nyarugenge prison with Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) officers at the Nyarugenge Court of Justice in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 25, 2020.  (Photo by Simon Wohlfahrt / AFP)

 

 

Paul Rusesabagina, the polarising hero of the “Hotel Rwanda” film, admitted to a Kigali court on Friday that he had formed an armed group but denied any role in their crimes.

Rusesabagina is famed for his depiction in the movie in which he is shown to have saved hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, which left some 800,000 dead.

After years in exile, where he has become a fierce government critic, he appeared under arrest in Rwanda last month, after apparently being lured into a private jet under false pretences.

In recent years Rusesabagina co-founded the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), an opposition party based abroad.

While he has previously expressed support for the National Liberation Front (FLN), which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Nyungwe, near the border with Burundi, his exact role has been unclear.

“We formed the FLN (National Liberation Front) as an armed wing, not as a terrorist group as the prosecution keeps saying. I do not deny that the FLN committed crimes but my role was diplomacy,” he said in court Friday.

“The agreement we signed to form MRCD as a political platform included the formation of an armed wing called FLN. But my work was under the political platform and I was in charge of diplomacy

AFP

Rwandans Vote On Allowing 3rd Kagame Presidential Term

KagameRwanda has begun the process that analysts say will grant President Paul Kagame a third term in office.

The citizens are voting in a referendum on a constitutional amendment to allow President Kagame to seek re-election.

Some 6.4 million citizens are eligible to vote on Friday, and around 37,000 Rwandans living overseas were able to have their say Thursday, December 17.

Rwandans are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of changing the constitution. The change will allow Mr Kagame to potentially remain in power until 2024.

He is seen by many as the man who stopped the genocide that caused the death of at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

The referendum was scheduled earlier in 2015 after the parliament backed a proposal to amend article 101 and allow Kagame to run in the 2017 election.

He has been President of Rwanda since 2001 and, at present, is bound by the constitution to step down after serving two consecutive seven-year terms.

Kagame has said that he will make a decision on the future of his political career after the referendum.

Congo Arrests Rwandan Former Mayor Wanted For Genocide

rwanda mayorDemocratic Republic of Congo has arrested a former Rwandan mayor accused of orchestrating the killing of tens of thousands of people during the 1994 genocide, Rwanda’s prosecutor general said on Thursday.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, who headed the commune of Nyakizu in southern Rwanda, was indicted in 1996 and is accused of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide as well as extermination, murder and rape, Prosecutor General Richard Muhumuza said in a statement.

“The National Public Prosecution Authority is pleased to announce the recent arrest of Ladislas Ntaganzwa, one of the last fugitive suspects sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,” Muhumuza said.

The tribunal’s indictment, updated in 2012, accuses Ntaganzwa of plotting to exterminate Rwanda’s Tutsi population and personally ordering the massacre of more than 20,0000 Tutsi civilians in one parish in April 1994.

The United States has offered up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

Ntaganzwa was arrested on Sunday in the town of Nyanzale in North Kivu province during an operation against the headquarters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu militia, said Congo’s army spokesman, Leon Kasonga.

The FDLR is based in eastern Congo. Its leaders include senior figures in the genocide who fled into Congo after overseeing the slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda between April and July 1994.

Ntaganzwa is not a member of the FDLR, the group’s spokesman, La Forge Fils Bazeye, told Reuters.

In a statement on Thursday, the U.N. Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals urged Congo to immediately transfer Ntaganzwa to Rwanda for trial.

Muhumuza said in his statement that Rwanda was prepared to prosecute Ntaganzwa before a specialised international crimes chamber of its High Court.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has convicted 61 people for involvement in the genocide, including leading military and government officials. New cases are expected to be heard by Rwandan courts or a separate tribunal backed by the United Nations.

Kasonga said Ntaganzwa is being held in the eastern city of Goma and would soon be transferred to the capital Kinshasa before any decision was made about extradition.

More than 20 years after the genocide, Rwanda is still pursuing perpetrators at home and internationally.

Ntaganzwa is one of nine high-profile fugitives identified by the tribunal.

 

Rwanda Sets Date For Referendum To Extend Presidential Term Limit

rwandaRwandans will vote in a referendum on December 18 on whether to amend the constitution and allow President Paul Kagame to remain in office until as late as 2034, officials said on Tuesday.

Under the proposed amendment, Kagame, in power since 2000, would be able to run for office again after his second mandate ends in 2017, first for a seven-year term and then for two further stints of five years each, stretching to 2034.

Kagame is the latest veteran ruler in Africa to attempt to extend his hold on power. Similar moves have already sparked violence and instability in Burundi, Burkina Faso and Congo Republic. So far there has been no political unrest in Rwanda.

“President Paul Kagame has accepted that a referendum be made on the current constitution,” the government said in a statement late on Tuesday after it had discussed the issue.

He had said that the outcome of the referendum would determine if he would seek a third term in office in the next election or not.

The current constitution limits any head of state to two terms.

The United States earlier this month said Kagame should resist the lure of power and step down after his second term to allow a new generation of leaders to come through.

Kagame won widespread praise for rebuilding the Central African country after a 1994 genocide killed about 800,000 people, most of them ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

While praising Rwanda’s economic and social development since then, human rights groups say the government severely restricts freedom of expression and brooks no dissent, charges the government denies.