South Africa: Exiled Rwandan army chief blames Kagame in murder plot


A picture taken in 2001 shows Rwandan Army Chief of Staff, Major General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwansa during a press conference at Camp Kigali. The former army chief, who later became Rwandan ambassador to India, fled into exile in South Africa via Uganda and then Kenya. In South Africa he has survived assassination attempts.



An exiled Rwandan army chief gave explosive testimony about Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a South African court Thursday.

Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa is testifying at the trial of three Rwandans and three Tanzanians accused of trying to kill him in an ambush outside his Johannesburg home.

Nyamwasa fled into exile in South Africa in 2010 after falling out with Kagame, a former ally. A few months later, in June 2010, Nyamwasa was shot as he returned home in Johannesburg from a shopping trip with his wife. 

South African police later foiled a second attempt on Nyamwasa's life, as he recovered in hospital.

Nyamwasa, once a close ally of Rwanda's president, told the court that Kagame had ordered the killing of the previous president that sparked Rwanda's 1994 genocide, the Associated Press reported.

Nyamwasa said he may have been targeted because of "facts in my knowledge that the president of Rwanda ordered the killing of the former president of Rwanda, President Habyarimana," according to the AP

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Rwanda's 100-day genocide began after the shooting down of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane in 1994. Militants from the Hutu ethnic majority blamed Tutsis, sparking the massacre.

Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front party have been in power since the end of the genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, when he led a rebel army into the capital to expel a Hutu-led government.

"The reasons why I would think anyone would want me dead is that I have over the years defied the leadership, in particular President Kagame, on things that needed change," Nyamwasa said, according to Agence France-Presse.

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Magistrate Stanley Mkhari refused to admit Nyamwasa's comments on Kagame as evidence, calling them speculation, AFP reported.

A South African lawyer hired by Rwanda's government, Gerhard van der Merwe, told the AP that it was unfortunate accusations could be made against Kagame without the Rwandan president having the chance to respond. 

Rwandan rights groups have accused Kagame’s government of involvement in the attack on the general and on other dissidents living in exile. Authorities in Kigali have denied any involvement.

The trial in Johannesburg will resume on July 10.

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