3 minute readBlog: Rwandan envoy to India legs it after sacking

The general, when he had diplomatic immunity. Kayumba Nyamwasa calls on the Secretary, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Dinesh Rai to discuss possible participation of the Ministry in the 11th Rwanda International Trade Fair 2008, in New Delhi on May 14, 2008.

The Rwandan envoy to India, Lieutenant General Kayumba Nyamwasa, having apparently defected from the Rwandan government, has been sacked from his position as High Commissioner to India and is reported to be on the run.

The general, as reported by StratPost in December 2008, has been earlier indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity with even arrest warrants having been issued against him by courts in France and Spain.

Uganda’s The New Vision website reported that the general is seeking asylum in South Africa. The report says ‘The embattled diplomat fled Rwanda on Friday at the end of a one-week annual retreat for Rwandan diplomats abroad’, adding, ‘Kayumba apparently left to report back to his duty station in India but escaped to Uganda through smuggler’s routes’.

The report also said ‘A statement issued by Rwanda’s foreign affairs ministry announced that Nyamwasa was no longer its envoy to India’. Really?

The report also added that before he fled ‘Nyamwasa was questioned by Rwandan investigative authorities on serious criminal charges’.

Zambian website Times Live reports ‘Former army chief of staff Lieutenant-General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa had been “questioned over certain serious criminal activity,” before abandoning his duties, Rwanda’s foreign ministry said.

The report quotes Patrick Guma, Uganda’s foreign ministry spokesman as telling Agence France Presse, “The information we have is that General Kayumba is not in Uganda.”

The report says, ‘Nyamwasa, who was back in Rwanda for an annual ambassadors’ retreat when he fled, is one of nine officials against whom a French anti-terrorist judge issued arrest warrants in 2006. The warrant is likely to limit the number of countries in which he can seek refuge’.

Especially now that he doesn’t have diplomatic immunity.

‘Prior to being sent to India, Nyamwasa, whose background is in military intelligence, was a powerful and respected figure in Kigali. In the past, Rwanda and Uganda have played host to each other’s dissidents,’ says the report.

The Daily Monitor of Uganda says ‘Nyamwasa is one of the highest ranked Rwandan military officers and a key player in the Rwanda Patriotic Army/Front guerrilla movement that brought President Paul Kagame to power in 1994, although it is reported that he has since fallen out with Gen. Kagame over varying political ambitions’.

In a separate report The Daily Monitor said, ‘Up until his flight on Friday after an annual retreat of diplomats in Kigali, the general was the country’s ambassador to India and previously served as the first commander of the Paul Kagame-led Rwanda Patriotic Forces, after the 1994 genocide’.

The Rwandan Embassy in New Delhi, which became the Rwandan High Commission after the country joined the Commonwealth in November last year still has the general inviting visitors to his country on their website.

Rwanda had virtually severed relations with France over the indictments in 2006, which also implicated the Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Until last Thursday, when French President Nicholas Sarkozy visited Rwanda to mend relations with President Kagame.

And the general then does a runner the next day.

And now the French have arrested the widow of the assassinated President of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana, Agathe Habyarimana to face trial for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This happened on Tuesday.

So the general and the president, rivals and co-accused of genocide, seem to have broken with each other, with the president perhaps having done a deal with the French about the genocide cases, giving up the general and also netting the former president’s wife.

Not to be outdone, and possibly having nothing to do with this, Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has asked on Monday to be released from house arrest in Rwanda.

So what do you think?