The Chronicles

Serving Your Right to Know the Truth

  • Kagame to receive two medals

    President Paul Kagame will officially be recognized on Thursday, January 26th this week as a hero who contributed to the liberation of Uganda. In this light, The Chronicles has learnt that Kagame is scheduled

    to receive two medals from the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government led by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

    Highly placed sources at Village Urugwiro who preferred anonymity because the information had not yet been made public confirmed the development. When The Chronicles contacted Uganda’s Ambassador to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero also confirmed the development but could not reveal the name of the two medals and instead referred our reporter to the Permanent Secretary in Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador James Mugume.
    Ambassador Mugume confirmed that President Kagame will be honoured with two medals. The first is the Luwero Triangle Medal and the second is the Order of the Pearl of Africa. The former is awarded to military officials who participated in NRM/A’s five year bush war that brought President Museveni to power and the latter is given to heads of state and governments.

    When asked whether there are other heads of state being honoured, Ambassador Mugume said “The medals are for President Kagame alone; other heads of state can attend, but the medals are for him alone”. President Paul Kagame is among 27 original individuals along President Museveni who launched a five year bush war in 1981 that ended former Ugandan president Milton Obote’s brutal rule and brought President Yoweri Museveni to power on January 26th 1986.

    The development comes at a time when the two countries have been trying to mend strained relations due to suspicion and claims of each supporting each other’s dissidents. President Kagame spent last year’s Christmas holidays at Museveni’s country home in Rwakitura, Western Uganda while Museveni visited Rwanda in August last year and spent four days in the country. He also spent two of the four days with President Kagame at his private home at Muhazi, Eastern Province.

    The celebrations to mark the 26th NRM anniversary will take place on Thursday, January 26th at Sebei College Sports Grounds in Kapchorwa district, according to the Ugandan Minister of Information, Mary Karooro.

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  • RPF not interested in third term – Senator Tito Rutaremara

    The ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) has finally offered to give its official position in the ongoing serialisation of the third term debate and the possibility of amending the constitution to allow president Kagame to stand again as called for by Minister Musa Fazil Harerimana. In an exclusive interview with The Chronicles touching on a range of issues on January 3, 2012, one of the party’s high level officials and founders, Senator Tito Rutaremara emphasised that the party is against the amendment of the constitution to delete term limits or to introduce a third term to allow president Kagame to stand again.

    “When we have a constitution written by people, debated by people, voted by people and passed by people, in order to change it you have to have a very serious reason,” observed Senator Tito adding that the only think that would call for prolonging President Kagame’s stay in office after his current second and last constitution term is if the country was at war and no time to organize elections.

    He noted, “For instance, if we are at a war and we don’t have time to go to elections, then we can let him go on. That is one of the reasons”.
    The former Ombudsman, who is also the Commissioner for communication and media within the RPF added that even if his party wanted the constitution changed to introduce a third term, they would not use PDI or any other political party.

    The senator went on, “[Some] people.. are saying we are using PDI to change the constitution…No, what RPF says it does it. You understand? We don’t fear! When we said we are going to attack to liberate the country… we did it. When we said we are going to chase president Habyarimana…we did it! And we said we are going to change the politics of this country and we did [it]! What we really say we are going to do we do it, because we don’t hide. Now if we are to do it [change the constitution]… why should we use PDI? No”. We can’t use another party… We can’t do that”

    RFP’s rebuttal is in response to the claim by FDU-Inkingi of embattled Victoire Ingabire that it was using PDI and Minister Fazil to engineer changing the constitution to introduce a third term for president Kagame. Boniface Twagirimana, the FDU-Inkingi vice president told The Chronicles on December 07, that Sheikh Harerimana’s call for the third term “is a strategy” used “by RPF members…because they are ashamed to say it under the RPF umberella”.
    Tito also asserts that RPF initially did not want to enter into the third term fray but was keeping tabs with the debate in the media after PDI’s chairman and Minister of Internal Security, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana had told The Chronicles that his party wished to amend the constitution to allow President Kagame to stand for a third term.

    In the same interview, minister Fazil said that his PDI had written to each party in the forum for political parties to back the proposal. Some parties we have interviewed acknowledged that they had received the letter. For instance, Phoebe Kanyange, the chairperson of PSP admitted to The Chronicles that her party had read the letter, but suggested that PDI instead should have sent their proposition to parliament for discussions.
    Senator Rutaremara however says that his party knows nothing about the letter.

    RPF needs no outsider to act on its behalf
    Instead, Tito says RPF has its unique and well known means of introducing policy and making decisions right from the village level to the national level, where the party’s general assembly validates it before taking the resolution to a referendum. “That is how we do things, when we say something we do it and when we do it, 99 percent of the time, we succeed. Why should we use PDI? Are they more (influential) than RPF?” he poses.

    Moreover, the former Ombudsman reminds of the president’s statement at the 11th RPF congress on December 17 when he said he did not want to keep repeating himself in answering the media, saying that he is not interested in standing for the third term, because, even whe he clearly states his stand, the media gets it wrong.

    Kagame doesn’t lie
    When we asked Rutaremara whether he believes that Kagame may change his stated stand regarding term limits and his wish to stand down after his current second term expires in 2017, he said: “The president? I have worked with president since 1986 and I know that he means what he says. I remember when the interahamwe were five kms from the border in Goma. He asked the international community to disarm them and if you are not doing it, we are coming to attack because it was something big, they were there [ready] to attack. The international did nothing and we went there! So imagine if he challenged the whole world, why should he hide for a few Rwandans, 11 millions. Why should he [be] hiding [that he wants a third term]?

    Who will succeed Kagame and is Tito ready to take the mantle?
    If President Kagame does not carry on as head of state after 2017, Rutaremara believes RPF would have other competent candidates. “We have so many people in RPF but we can even have other good names in other party among 11 million Rwandans”. However, Tito declined to name who he thinks might be qualified to succeed president Kagame saying that if he did so, it would be interpreted as if he is campaigning for that person.

    When asked whether he was ready and considering to run for president, he answered: “…I can’t [stand for president] because this country needs young people and there are many young people, new blood in this country, I can use my wisdom in other [ways]”. Rutaremara also underscores that RPF believes in institutions and not individuals, adding, “The structures will remain for more than 200 years, but we will never create a president who will remain for 200 years. We are not God,” he stresses.

    The RPF founder member also talked about a range of other issues, including the fight against corruption in Rwanda, who might succeed him as the ombudsman among other issues.

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  • DR Congo Government – FDLR agreement draws Kigali ire

    A deal being negotiated between the FDLR rebels and the DR Congo government risks unravelling gains painfully made over the years as the international community attempts to put a lid on conflicts within the Great Lakes region.

    The Chronicles can exclusively reveal that the DR Congo government has, since early last year, been holding secret talks with the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) – some of whose members are wanted in Rwanda for genocide related charges. Its leaders also face different international courts over war crimes.
    Leading the DR Congo delegation is Major General Dieudonné Amuli — the ex-coordinator of Operation Amani Leo, which aimed at flashing out the rebels, and FDLR deputy executive secretary “Lieutenant Colonel” Wilson Irategera for the FDLR delegation.

    The talks have been ongoing since February last year, and a “preliminary ceasefire agreement” was concluded on March 17. The dilemma however, is that neither the Government of Rwanda nor senior FDLR officers want anything to do with discussion. And the two sides have what could only be described as impossible demands by the other.

    Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (MINAFFET), essentially, the country’s window to the outside world, tells The Chronicles that it is not aware of any agreement but actually termed the FDLR a “genocidaire militia”.

    Details of the talks are contained in the latest UN report submitted Friday, December 30, 2011, to the Security Council by the UN Group of Experts on DRC. The talks have a facilitator but the name and signature of the individual have deliberately been erased from the agreement – probably by the UN team itself.

    The “preliminary agreement” includes a commitment by FDLR to disarm and regroup all its combatants and dependants in a secure zone between 150 and 300 km from the Rwandan border, where they would settle and transform into a political movement.

    The DRC Government would guarantee the safety of FDLR combatants and grant asylum to those seeking refugee status. The preliminary agreement also underlined the necessity of involvement on the part of the international community.

    The UN mission in DRC (MONUSCO) estimates that FDLR combatants do not exceed 3,000 in number, while Rwandan intelligence services presented the UN Group of investigators with a figure of 4,355 – including more than 2,000 in South Kivu alone. In its estimates, the UNHCR says there are probably about 10,000 Rwanda refugees living in the areas controlled by the rebels.

    Rwanda indifferent
    In Kigali, however, any mention of talks with the FDLR has been received with outright hostility. According to the UN report, DRC did take “steps to reassure” the Rwandan Government about this process, but Kigali has “remained remarkably silent on the issue”.

    Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo told The Chronicles on Thursday last week that she was “not aware of such an Agreement”. In rejoinder to our request for comment, the Minister demonstrated a strong show of dislike for the whole idea of talks.

    “…you can be sure that any move to rehabilitate members of FDLR from a genocidaire militia to anything else, including signing anything other than their arrest warrants, will be strongly opposed by my Government,” said Mushikiwabo, in a brief response from her BlackBerry phone.

    By press time, we had not been able to speak to the DRC envoy in Kigali as his known cell phone was off.

    “Spoilers”
    Despite muted objections to some of the 11 articles in the preliminary agreement by some quarters, the FDLR current executive secretary Ndagijimana has remained the most actively involved in the negotiations with the Kinshasa Government, according to MONUSCO sources. The official call record obtained by the UN investigators shows that between March and August 2011, Ndagijimana exchanged 202 text messages with the principal facilitator Maj Gen Amuli by satellite telephone alone.

    To the FDLR negotiators, this could be a godsend to regain the completely lost international credibility, which has left them vilified from all corners of the global due to the alleged crimes they have committed in the DRC. But to FDLR’s top two most senior commanders, any talks without Kigali’s involvement is meaningless.

    The two men whom the UN describes as “spoilers” are “Lieutenant General” Sylvestre
    Mudacumura – the current FDLR supreme leader and his deputy “General” Gaston “Rumuli” Iyamuremye. These men, whose photos have never been published in the media, nor held any interviews, limit defections from the militia group by coercive means. The world only largely knows of the two men through defectors.

    According to UN investigators, the talks with DRC seem to have lost momentum, mainly because of objections from Iyamuremye and Mudacumura regarding the process, as it requires commencement of disarmament. During a vote on 29 June, the FDLR senior officers are said to have opposed this DRC Government’s proposal.

    Congo Government

    UN investigators say while Mudacumura fears international justice, other “spoilers” have emerged following information leaks regarding the process. The political leader of FDLR’ splinter group Ralliement pour l’unité et la démocratie (RUD)-Urunana, Dr. Félicien Kanyamibwa, also rejected the negotiations, suggesting that Rwanda had to be involved. Details about Kanyamibwa, who lives in the United States, are published in our previous issue No 12.

    Talks…? You must be joking!
    It is not the first time something like a negotiated end to FDLR’s rebel activities have come to light. Court documents presented in Germany at the ongoing trial of its leaders Dr. Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni show that the militia group has deliberately targeted civilians to cause the humanitarian catastrophe. The thinking is that eventually, the international community will force Rwanda to negotiate with the rebels, say prosecutors.

    The current claimed DRC plan, which has been rejected before by Rwanda, is such that the rebels who choose to return home would be facilitated to do so, whereas those who turn down repatriation would be relocated to a Congolese area far away from the two countries’ common border.

    Kigali insists that relocating the rebels within Congo cannot deter them from destabilising Rwanda. At some point, government termed the suggestion that FDLR would disarm voluntarily as a fantasy. Rwanda wants them simply rounded up and deported to Kigali.

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