Rwanda’s main opposition figure, Twagiramungu plans his return

By Judi Rever in Montreal
Posted on Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:03

Rwanda’s former prime minister Faustin Twagiramungu, now in exile, says he plans to return by the end of the year to recommend President Paul Kagame loosen his authoritarian grip.

“I have decided to go back home this year,” Twagiramungu said during a brief trip in early March to Sherbrooke, Quebec, where he met members of his political association, the Rwanda Dream Initiative.

“I’m optimistic that Kagame will listen to me. I may be naive, but I think I have to try,” said Twagiramungu, a 68-year-old Hutu who was prime minister in Rwanda’s post-genocide government.

He fled in late 1995 because of threats to his security.

In 2003, he returned to Rwanda to contest presidential elections but was threatened again and fled immediately after the poll.

Twagiramungu came second, scoring 3.6 percent of the vote. Kagame was elected with over 95 percent of the total vote.

He now lives in Brussels.

Parliamentary elections are due in September 2013 and presidential elections in 2017.

Kagame, who is mid-way through his second term, has been ambiguous about whether he plans to push through changes allowing him to stand for a third term.

“What I will propose to Kagame is not to give up power to me,” said Twagiramungu.

“But I will make suggestions on how Rwanda could be managed in a way that every citizen has the hope of achieving his or her objectives, and of living in peace.

“Today Rwandans do not live in peace. There are always threats, insults, humiliations and fear.”

Opponents and human rights groups accuse Kagame, whose troops routed Hutu extremists and halted the 1994 genocide, of assassinating and sidelining competitors.

A United Nations report suggests that Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebellion in eastern DRC.

Observers criticised the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for refusing to try crimes committed by Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Army, whose troops massacred Hutu peasants throughout the 1990s, according to human rights organisations.

“If the international community decided today to arrest Kagame and try him, people would be happy.

But the reality is, the international community will not do it. So what remains is to find a common ground for peaceful cohabitation,” says Twagiramungu.

He says he feels morally obliged to seize the moment and make a difference in his homeland and is not afraid of being put in jail.

“I prefer to die for the truth than die in silence… I have defended both Hutus and Tutsis since my childhood.

“So now, in the conclusion of my own life, I think I also have to challenge this man.”

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options