Business, Finance & Economics

Rwanda News: Blood on Kagame's hands?


Rwandan President Paul Kagame is accused by a former ally of having ordered the shooting down of a plane that triggered the genocide in Rwanda. Here Kagame is shown during the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative meeting on Sept. 22, 2011, in New York.


Stephen Chernin

NAIROBI, Kenya — New allegations were made against Rwanda's President Paul Kagame by a former ally who spoke to the BBC. 

Theogene Rudasingwa alleges that Kagame ordered the shooting down of Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana's jet in April 1994, an assassination that acted as a trigger for the genocide in which around 800,000 people — mostly ethnic Tutsis — were killed by Hutu death squads.

"By committing that kind of crime Kagame has the responsibility in the crime of genocide," Rudasingwa told the BBC.

With this charge Rudasingwa joins a growing chorus of disapproval of Kagame from disgruntled former friends, comrades and allies, including former Lt Gen Faustin Nyamwasa who says Kagame tried to have him assassinated in South Africa last year.

The allegation against Kagame is not new. A French judge has been pursuing Kagame for the crime for the last five years and Kagame himself has had to deny responsibility on a number of occasions.

In 2007, Kagame ordered an inquiry which years later produced a lengthy report that — perhaps unsurprisingly — exonerated him.

So the allegations have not gone away, nor are they likely to as mystery continues to surround the downing of the plane.

The shooting down of Habyarimana's plane lit the torch of the genocide, but preparations had been made well in advance as a glance at the convictions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda make clear. If the plane crash had not been the trigger, there can be little doubt that the Hutu extremists would have found another provocation.