Rwanda Opposition Furious Over Habyarimana Plane report

Rwanda Opposition Furious Over Habyarimana Plane report 2010-09-10-21-13-16-u-UWAHANUYE-FALCON-50-YA-HABYARIMANA-MURI-94-NI-NDE2-300x298


The Rwanda opposition has reacted angrily at the report that clears President Paul Kagame’s role in the shooting of the plane carrying then leader Juvenal Habyarimana.

French judges Marc Trevedic and Natalie Poux Tuesday concluded the missile that killed Habyarimana in April 1994 was shot from Kanombe military base which was under the presidential elite brigade.

The firing occured in distance of up to 1km (more than half a mile) away from the plane, which was about to land at Kigali airport.

The experts concluded it was very difficult for forces loyal to Kagame to be in this area and therefore shoot down the plane.

They concluded it would have been much easier for Habyarimana’s troops or French troops who were in the area to launch the missile.

The report has sparked mixed reactions from Rwanda opposition and the government of President Paul Kagame.

Kagame’s former close ally and Major in RPF at the time of the shooting Theogene Rudasingwa said his party Rwanda National Congress still believes that the responsibility of the country’s leader in the downing of his predecessor’s plane is real.

“This is a well prepared media campaign aiming to fool national and international opinion in order to polish the dictator’s version,” Rudasingwa said.

“The technical report by ballistic experts has investigated 6 possible launching sites according to the information surveyed in Kigali during their investigations,” he added.

“The question of where the ground-to-air missile was fired is a key to establishing the credibility of different accounts of the terrorist attack,” Rudasingwa charged.

Rwanda People’s Party (RPP) leader John V Karuranga has described the report as “just politics.”

The lawyer for the Habyarimana family told BBC they are unhappy about the report’s conclusions – questioning the credibility of the experts – and they still want someone to be found guilty.

« It does not matter where the shooting took place. What matters is who fired the missile, » Habyarimana’s son Jean-Luc added.

Habyarimana’s widow, Agathe said she wanted the French inquiry to find out who had bought the allegedly Russian missile that hit the plane – because that would help to identify those behind the attack.

Nevertheless, Rwanda government is jubilating following the good news that exonerated Kagame.

« Today’s findings constitute vindication for Rwanda’s long-held position on the circumstances surrounding events of April 1994, » Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a statement.

Lawyer Bernard Maingain, who represents President Paul Kagame’s entourage who were under investigation, said that the findings « put an end to more than 16 years of manipulation and lies. »

“Today’s findings constitute vindication for Rwanda’s long-held position on the circumstances surrounding events of April 1994.

“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,” Mushikiwabo emphasised.

She said it was now clear to all that the downing of the plane was a “coup d’état carried out by extremist Hutu elements and their advisors who controlled Kanombe Barracks”.

Mushikiwabo said that for the people of Rwanda, the report is viewed as the result of high quality investigation commissioned by French magistrates with impeccable credentials, and carried out by world-class experts.

She noted that the report clears those falsely accused of shooting down the plane and brings a decisive end to the lies and conspiracy theories that have, for too long, tried to divert the world’s attention from the actual authors of horrendous crimes that took place in Rwanda during the Genocide.

“Rwandans welcome the findings that shed more light on a vital part of our country’s history. We continue, undeterred and undistracted, with the vital task of nation-building for generations to come,” she added.

Survivors Welcome Findings

Genocide survivors have welcomed the findings of a team of French experts that investigated the shooting of the plane.

Janvier Forongo, the Executive Secretary of IBUKA, the Umbrella association of Genocide survivors’ associations, told The New Times that they welcome the report.

“First, as representatives of Genocide survivors, we would like to commend the experts for a job well done.

The experts having not gone by what had been reported in the papers, and taking their time to come to the ground to find out what exactly happened, is something commendable.

“This brings to an end the pointing of accusing fingers by various sides,” Forongo said.

But Rudasinwa says considering the level of infiltrations and deployments of operatives in Kigali city and its surroundings by the then rebellion, we have no single doubts that RPF was in a position to mount such an operation in most of the six suspected firing spots.

“This first technical report does not change anything from the truth.  Our respective organisations are committed to identify very credible witnesses ready to provide details and facts of the operation and the operatives under orders of the then rebel military overall commander,” he said.

Judges Trévidic and Poux will today hold a press conference to expound more on the findings of the 400-page report whose release has been postponed several times.



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