By Bosco Mutarambirwa
There are many who wish [the Rwandan president Paul] Kagame was hit as a way to get rid of a mass murderer who won’t leave Rwandans alone. What remains unknown is, though, whether Kagame’s sudden death would help or hurt Rwanda’s reconciliation process – or the region’s for that matter. Rwanda has already lost many leaders to extra-judiciary murders. From kings Musinga and Rudahigwa to presidents Kayibanda and Habyarimana. And now Kagame?
The region itself has lost several of leaders to assassinations by the very Kagame. Presidents Ndadaye, Habyarimana, Ntaryamira, Kabila -all of these lost their lives to Kagame’s bloody hands.
Therefore shooting Kagame in broad daylight, killing him Torrijos-style (plant an explosive device on his plane), or John Garang style – these may seem to be the easiest methods to get rid of Kagame, the Hitler of Africa.
When Panama lost Omar Torrijos, its revolution leader, it is believed that Manuel Noriega, his compatriot, is the one who did the dirty job of assassinating him. After Manuel Noriega (who served CIA in some capacity like Kagame may or maybe not today) became a huge liability (like Kagame is today), he was prosecuted in the US and French courts. At different stages of the trial period, Noriega often threatened to reveal CIA secrets, but whatever evidence he claimed he held never made it to trial.
I propose that Kagame be handled Noriega-style as opposed to Torrijos-style. Kagame’s prosecution would hopefully serve to bring many in his large criminal gang to justice. Kagame’s simple disappearance from the face of planet earth may not guarantee that his system of death squads is gone as well. Putting them on trial, one by one, may prove to be the most effective way of eradicating Kagame and his system of assassinations, lies and deceptions. A system that is decades old now and deeply engrained in all walks of life in today’s Rwanda’s society. I suggest Kagame does not get shot in the forehead. Rather, I propose he gets blindfolded whenever he moves from one jail cell to another, like Noriega moving from a US jail to French recently in 2011.
My hope is that the trial of Paul Kagame becomes a role model for citizens of the African great lakes region to realize that nobody is above the law, that nobody gets away with mass murder, hutu or titsi alike.
For Kagame’s followers, I suggest you stop following your leaders blindly. Enough is enough. To my fellow hutus: if we all had had the courage to oppose Sindikubwabo & Kambanda’s regime, THE “genocide” would not have taken place.
And to my fellow Tutsis: If we had opposed Kagame from the get-go, our region would not have lost close to 10 million innocent citizens and 4 of its quality leaders. After all, we did not ignore that Kagame was “Pilato” before he even started heading RPF. Things never got better thereafter, they got worse.
We Rwandans shall learn to oppose any criminal leader no matter what their ethnic background may be, no matter what skin color they may have.
More on Panama and its leaders, late Omar Torrijos and inmate Manuel Noriega:
-Death of Torrijos
General Torrijos died at the age of 52 when his aircraft, a DeHavilland Twin Otter (DHC-6), crashed during its flight. The aircraft disappeared from radar during severe weather, but due to the limited nature of Panama’s radar coverage at the time, the plane was not reported missing for nearly a day. The crash site was located several days later, and the body of General Torrijos was recovered by a Special Forces team in the first few days of August. Following a large state funeral, Torrijos was briefly buried in Amador cemetery in Casco Viejo (the Old City of Panama), before being moved to a mausoleum in the former Canal Zone near Panama City. He was succeeded as commander of the National Guard and de facto leader of Panama by Florencio Flores, who later gave way to Rubén Darío Paredes.
-Speculations on cause of crash
Torrijos’ death generated charges and speculation that he was the victim of an assassination plot. For instance, in pre-trial hearings in Miami in May 1991, Manuel Noriega ‘s attorney, Frank Rubino, was quoted as saying ” General Noriega has in his possession documents showing attempts to assassinate General Noriega and Mr. Torrijos by agencies of the United States .” Those documents were not allowed as evidence in trial, because the presiding judge agreed with the U.S. government’s claim that their public mention would violate the Classified Information Procedures Act. More recently, former businessman John Perkins alleges in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man , that Torrijos was assassinated by American interests, who had a bomb planted aboard his aircraft (by CIA organized operatives). The alleged motive is that some American business leaders and politicians strongly opposed the negotiations between Torrijos and a group of Japanese businessmen led by Shigeo Nagano, who were promoting the idea of a new, larger, sea-level canal for Panama. Manuel Noriega, in America’s Prisoner , claims that these negotiations had evoked an extremely unfavorable response from American circles. Torrijos died shortly after the inauguration of US President Ronald Reagan, just two months after Ecuadorian president Jaime Roldós died in strikingly similar circumstances.
-Noriega’s U.S. prison sentence ended in September 2007; pending the outcome of extradition requests by both Panama and France, for convictions in absentia for murder in 1995 and money laundering in 1999. France was granted its extradition request in April 2010. He arrived in Paris on April 27, 2010, and after a re-trial as a condition of the extradition, he was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in jail in July 2010. A conditional release was granted on September 23, 2011, for Noriega to be extradited to serve 20 years in Panama. He arrived in Panama on December 11, 2011.
Final note: I intentionally stepped away from the famous case of Charles Taylor only to demonstrate that there are other proven methods that would deal with the criminal case against Kagame.
This article of Bosco Mutarambirwa poses a fundamental question of political leadership in time of war. The cases I am referring to here are those of Sindikubwabo and Kambanda during the Rwandan genocide period from April to July 1994. Sindikubwabo was Speaker of the Rwandan parliament when president Habyarimana was assassinated on orders of Kagame on April 6th, 1994. According to the constitution Sindikubwabo became automatically the new president and had to assume that responsibility. Kambanda became the agreed prime minister who accepted to lead the crisis’ government on April 9th in the evening. War between RPF and the Rwandan government had resumed immediately after the president’s assassination. It had started four years earlier, exactly on October 1st, 1990 with the invasion of RPF from Uganda. How does a structure of government which is decried from all the corners by RPF propaganda machine and denied access to supply of weaponry for its armed forces deal with an opponent on the battlefield whose atrocities were not sparing any of the citizens? Trying to understand what the Sindikubwabo and Kambanda duo could’ve done is a puzzling problem. They tried to negotiate with RPF unsuccessfully. How far go their responsibilities in the massacres that took place is as well questionable. For some of us who were on the ground, I can confirm that they didn’t have much control about the situation. The forces they were against wanted the context to be what it was for them to achieve their political aims: taking power in Rwanda through chaos and bloodshed. If the duo ordered the killing of innocent people, they should be responsible for that. However if they found themselves overwhelmed by a situation beyond their capacities at the time, they should not be blamed.