The Chronicles

Serving Your Right to Know the Truth

  • Patrice Mulama relieved of his duties at Media High Council Staff Writer

    The Executive Secretary of the Media High Council (MHC) Mr. Patrice Mulama has been relieved of his duties at the institution. Explaining the reasons for his removal, the chairman of the MHC Mr. Arthur Assimwe stated in a message to The chronicles, “Mulama was a senior government official

    and as you know government has the prerogative power to appoint, reshuffle or fire any of its officials if need arises. Therefore, within its mandate, the government made changes in [the] MHC in which Mulama has been given temporary leave and a new acting Executive Secretary has been appointed. All these changes are aimed at re-energising the institution and ensuring it meets its mandate”

    When we pressed Mr. Assimwe further to give concrete reasons for the removal of Mr. Mulama from his position, he again referred us back to the same statement. However, The Chronicles has reliably learnt that the removal of Mr. Mulama is related to the arrest in November last year of three journalists by the police.

    Multiple sources intimately familiar with the decision but who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter told The Chronicles that after the arrest of Mr. Joseph Bideri, the former Managing Director of The New Times, Jean Gualbert Burasa of Rushyashya and Rene Anthere Rwanyange, the MHC wrote a letter to the Inspector-General of Police condemning the arrest. The letter was copied to a number of government institutions, including the office of the president.

    The problem, according to our highly placed sources is that while government was also unhappy that the journalists had been arrested, a decision had been taken then to resolve the matter internally without any press releases but this was not entirely respected. At the time, the MHC wanted to write a press release but refrained following this decision and instead wrote the letter. By writing the letter and copying it to different authorities, according to our sources, Mr. Mulama went against the advice of his line minister and the aforementioned decision. The Ministry for Cabinet affairs headed by Hon. Protais Musoni oversees media affairs.

    When contacted, the chairman of the MHC could neither deny nor confirm this. When The Chronicles called Mr. Patrice Mulama, he confirmed he had been removed from his position but declined to give any details or reasons for his sacking. He simply said, ‘The chairman can confirm on what the reasons are”. When we inquired whether his removal is related to the letter he wrote to the Commissioner General of Police, he stated: “I have no idea, it would be better if you referred that to the chairman”.

    Mr. Mulama has been the executive secretary of the MHC since its birth in 2003. The new acting Executive Secretary is Mr. Emmanuel Mugisha who has been the director of Media Development at the same institution. Prior to that, Mr. Mugisha was a legal advisor in the same institution. He holds a degree in law from the National University of Rwanda.

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  • Why Kagame should invite Judge Bruguière

    Why Kagame should invite Judge Bruguière for a thank you cup of café after getting his heroes’ medal from Museveni
    As a country, we seem to live in very interesting and happier times. And President Paul Kagame must be a very happy and satisfied man these days. These two sentence statements came from an acquaintance. When I asked why, he wondered whether I know the implications of the findings in the Trévidic report and whether I was aware that President Kagame is scheduled to receive a heroes medal from President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda for his contribution to NRM/A’s five year ‘liberation’ war.
    Upon reflection, my acquaintance has a good point informed by historical facts. A few years ago, Rwanda was at the brink of war with Uganda following the two countries’ armies’ bitterly clashing on three different occasions in DRC’s Kisangani City between August 1999 and 2000. Just less than three years ago, Rwanda and France had severed all diplomatic relations.

    As a follow up to the Kisangani debacle in which the ICG estimates six hundred soldiers and civilians to have perished, each country, as recently as early last year, was accusing the other of supporting each other’s dissidents. Almost all major Rwandan dissidents in recent times, including Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and Patrick Karegeya were reported by the media to have transited through Uganda with the support of senior officials in that country. Media reports also suggested that the Museveni government believed that Rwanda was financing Dr Kizza Besigye’s campaigns in the 2006 and 2011 elections to defeat their man.

    Now, all of a sudden, Presidents Kagame and Museveni are so much in love that each cannot visit the other’s capital without icing it with lunch, dinner and breakfast at the other’s country home. Last December, President Kagame spent Christmas Holiday at Museveni’s village home at Rwakitura, Western Uganda. In August last year, Museveni was here and spent two days at Kagame’s home at Muhazi. To top this up, media reports now suggest that Kagame has been invited to NRM’s liberation celebrations where he will be awarded a heroes medal on January 26 for his role in the NRM five year war and eventual capture of state power.

    How was it possible for Kagame to turn bitter foes into bosom friends? How did he manage to convince France to talk on equal terms following the humiliation of their ambassador who was given marching orders upon Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière indictment of nine former senior RPA and now RDF officers in 2006? Or how did Museveni and France manage to convince Kagame to talk peace?
    To understand how Kagame managed to turn foes into friends or vice versa, one needs to comprehend Rwanda’s strategy in its relations with both countries. Evidence suggests that she combined both hard and soft power to win the respect of both countries and their leaders; at least some of the leaders.
    For starters, Rwanda and Uganda are not really enemies. The peoples of the two countries share long historical, social and economic ties. Also, a lot has been said and written about Uganda’s role in RPA/F’s four year struggle just as the contribution of Rwandese in NRM/A struggle is well known. There is no doubt that Uganda and President Museveni in particular played a critical role in RPF’s victory than any other country or leader.
    The reason this history is important to recount here is not to reignite sad memories. It’s to ensure we know how we got here; what it took and what it takes or might require in the future remaining a respected people and country. It’s also to show how respected countries are built and sustainable mutual relations between countries forged.

    With France, it is a well know fact within the political and diplomatic circles that Paris, from the day the RPF/A captured state power and defeated its ally, the FAR, it used different tools to undermine it; ranging from attempting diplomatic isolation to undermining the country’s ability to attract aid.
    It has also been said variously by different leaders in Rwanda that France was using justice to intimidate, and silence Kigali or deflect attention from its role in the 1994. The Bruguière report of 2006 that ended in indicting nine senior RDF officers is largely seen in this light.

    On his part, Kagame refused to be intimidated and called France’s bluff. First, in reaction to the indictment, the French ambassador was expelled and their embassy closed. Secondly, the Mucyo Commission was set up to investigate France’s role in the genocide. This closed with the naming of 33 senior military officials and political leaders, including current foreign minister Alain Juppe. The Mutsinzi Commission was also set up that closed with the finding that the plane that was carrying Habyarimana was brought down by a missile from Kanombe Military barracks then controlled by Habyarimana forces. If France did not reconsider its stand, it is thought her officials would be indicted too.

    Combining diplomatic, political and judicial offensive, and publicising it must have humbled the French establishment or some of it. As a consequence, France, under Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to talk instead of plotting and fighting. With Uganda, it is probable that the gist of the problem was Ugandan officials’ failure to recognise that while some Rwandese were in their army as junior officers, upon return home, they had grown up to become generals and leaders of a sovereign nation that deserved respect. It is widely known that some Ugandan senior military officials such as the late Maj. Gen James Kazini used to refer to Rwandan senior officials as ‘corporal’.

    In this climate of disrespect, something had to be done. Either the RPF/RPA had to accept the inferior position or they had to assert their equality and even superiority. This is partly what was done and achieved in Kisangani. As former US president Woodrow Wilson said many years ago, the best and durable agreement is one between equals. President Kagame will be travelling to Kampala to pick his heroes’ medal from his former mentor, not as an inferior, but an equal; an accomplished and tested general and head of a respected state.

    Likewise, in the years to come, he will sit down with French officials, including Sarkozy, not as an inferior but a leader of a respectable country with interests to pursue and protect. In that sense, Bruguière will go down in history, not as the man who helped France silence Rwanda over its role in the genocide, but as the judge who handed Kagame the weapon to downsize the French ego and assumptions about its superiority and in the process establishing relations based on mutual respect.

    With this outcome, and politics being what it is─with no assured permanent friends or enemies, it would perhaps be worth Kagame inviting Bruguière for a thank you cup of café at Village Urugwiro! And in Uganda, no one will say Kagame has fluked the heroes’ medal, for he is not only among the original 27 members of the NRA war, fighting and rising to become Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, but he reconfirmed his military credentials as an accomplished general in Kisangani.

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  • Our party weak to contest for presidency – Rucibigango

    THE PRESIDENT Of the Labour Party (PRS) in Rwanda, Jean Baptist Rucibigango told The Chronicles in an exclusive interview that his party is weak and not ready to contesting for the presidency in 2017 when President Kagame is expected to end his second and final constitutional mandate. Hon Rucibigango said “…PSR is not ready” and in 2017,

    “we shall still be organising ourselves…we have no money to open up offices [out of Kigali]….we are still interested in giving civic education” to our members.

    The leader of PSR also wondered “who would be interested in leading a country like Rwanda still divided along ethnic lines” among other problems cited. The ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front party candidate President Kagame is serving out his last term of office – but already, a small coalition partner the Rwanda Labour Party (PSR) categorically affirms it does not aspire to take over the highest office in the land.

    Besides stating that his party is not ready to lead, he added: “That [seeking the presidency] has never been part of our political programme,” said party leader, Hon Jean Baptist Rucibigango in an interview with The Chronicles last week. “We do not want power. Our programme entails advocacy for the social welfare of all Rwandans.”

    The motivation behind this position, Rucibigango says, is because parties focus more on taking the presidency – overlooking the concerns of the electorate. As to whether the constitution should be amended to make room for President Kagame to rule until he sees fit to leave, Rucibigango preferred not to speak about the issue saying, “leave me out of that debate”.

    The PSR party rose as a university student movement in the 1980s. In 1992, following mounting internal and donor pressure on ex-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana to open up political space to his critics, PSR was born. It had observer status during the 1993 Arusha talks that eventually led to a peace deal meant to halt the advancing Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels.

    PSR would eventually break up just before the 1994 genocide– in what was blamed on the ruling MRND party. The current leadership even accuses the splinter group – which called itself the United Democratic Workers (RTD), of being part of the execution machine for the genocide. Over the years, it has been in coalition with the dominant RPF – backing President Kagame in the 2003 and 2010 presidential polls. During the parliamentary elections in 2003 and 2008, PSR along with six other small parties agreed with the RPF to field a single list of candidates. PSR received one single seat among the list of 42 slots on the coalition list. Rucibigango is party leader and the only PSR Member of Parliament.

    Why is PSR not ready to contest for the presidency?
    “You could win power by playing the ethnic card,” says the lawmaker. “PALIMEHUTU manipulated the Hutus and won more than 80 percent of the vote, or ZANU-PF of [President Robert] Mugabe sidelined others through the same tactic. “PALIMEHUTU’s rule did not last for even ten years as it was deposed in 1973 despite winning more than 80 percent of the votes earlier!” adds Rucibigango.

    “Am trying to illustrate to you that putting political power at the front of a party’s political programme, is not a good idea. PALIMEHUTU ruled for less than ten years!” So who does PSR intend to back come 2017? Rucibigango is non-committal, and prefers not to even speak about the subject.
    “We just elected President Kagame last year,” he argues. “In the next six years, we are much more concerned on improving the lives of Rwandans than who will replace the RPF candidate.”

    When put to him that some parties have publicly said they want the constitution amended to allow President Kagame continue ruling past 2017, Rucibigango simply retorted: “I have not yet thought about that…The discussion about that [President Kagame seeking reelection] should end there. If others have decided, it is their choice.”

    When we informed him that the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) of Internal Affairs Minister, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana had made it clear they wanted President Kagame’s two term lengthened, Rucibigango said the parties had an unwritten understanding not to comment on each other’s affairs.
    “That can result in criticising others…that could be the culture elsewhere, but in Rwanda we have chosen the path of mutual respect…actually we should end that discussion or the interview stops.

    “Besides, choosing who PSR will support is not the choice of Rucibigango. NO! It is a long process that involves all party organs right from the grassroots,” says the lawmaker, but he declines to divulge the number of party members on the PSR register. “We have many members – actually even you [The Chronicles reporters] are members because you are employees; the challenge we face is resources to organise our members,” Rucibigango says, before adding: “Besides, even if I had a particular figure, I would not tell you. That is a secret every party keeps.”

    Dr. Jean Baptist Mberabahizi under fire
    Among the founders of PSR is exiled politician Dr. Jean Baptist Mberabahizi – who is currently Secretary General of the European-based wing of the United Democratic Forum Inkingi (FDU-Inkingi), the party of embattled opposition politician Victoire Ingabire who is on prosecution in the country over several serious charges.

    Rucibigango says Mberabahizi has “no personality”. “He left PSR…joined the RPF after the war and is now with Ingabire. Would you take such a person seriously?” poses Rucibigango, adding that he had attempted to woo Mberabahizi against joining Ingabire, but it was too late.“He has no ideology,” he recaps.

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  • Close of a divisive story, end of an era?

    As Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, rightly observed, the recent findings of a judicial inquiry commissioned by French judges, Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, perhaps marks the end of an era. It’s a story, from genesis to exit, based on a labyrinth of diplomatic furor, conspiracy theories, accusations and counter-accusations between France and Rwanda vis-à-vis, the former’s role in the 1994 genocide and RPF alleged role in downing the plane carrying Habyarimana.
    In a press conference soon after the release of the findings, Karugarama dismissed claims that the report was not the end to the conflicting theories about the circumstances that surrounded the downing of the Falcon 50 jet that was carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana. “This is a case file that is finished as far as we can see,” he said. The downing of the Falcon 50 jet has generated almost a dozen commissions of inquiry to get to the bottom-line of saga including the controversial Bruguière report, UN report, the Mutsinzi Report, the Carlson Report, the report of eminent persons, the British Military Academy and investigations by the ICTR.

    The latest inquiry corroborates the Mutsinzi Report that the missiles that killed the former leader, his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira, a French crew, among others, were launched from Kanombe military base, which was under the full control of Habyarimana’s elite units. The two competing theories of the incident, since hardly anyone disputes that the event was a spark to carrying out a systematically organized genocide, was that “Hutu extremists” from the Rwandan military killed the president to derail a power-sharing agreement. The other theory is that the RPF carried out the attack as the opening phase of their invasion, which quickly followed the assassination.

    Upon the release of the report, Louise Mushikiwabo, Foreign Minister and Government Spokesperson said. “With this scientific truth, Judges Trévidic and Poux have slammed shut the door on the 17-year campaign to deny the genocide or blame its victims. It is now clear to all that the downing of the plane was a coup d’état carried by extremist Hutu elements and their advisors who controlled Kanombe Barracks.”

    Most world media also say that the report “has not been released publicly,” but this hasn’t stopped them from running sensationalist headlines. Probably after the public release of the report, the few dissenting voices would rest their second thoughts. For the moment, it is our sincere hope that the report brings to an end the issue of who downed former president habyarimana’s plane. The next step we hope should be to name and bring to book the actual perpetrators behind the crime.

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