Rwanda-France: what to know about the new witness who accuses Paul Kagame
While diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali have become explosive again, Jeune Afrique returns in detail on the latest bone of contention date: a witness, appeared in extremis before the French justice, which accuses the RPF of being at the origin of the attack of 6 April 1994.
Appeared late in the proceedings opened in Paris in 1998, James Munyandinda (aka Jackson Munyeragwe) accuses the current Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, of being the sponsor of the attack on April 6, 1994 against the plane of the former President Juvenal Habyarimana – which had served as a pretext for triggering genocide against Tutsis.
Heard by the French judge Jean-Marc Herbaut on March 8 and 21, 2017, he claimed to have personally witnessed the loading of surface-to-air missiles that allegedly served to commit this crime. The French magistrate, who inherited the file originally instructed by Jean-Louis Bruguière, intends to convene in December the Rwandan Minister of Defense, James Kabarebe, to face James Munyandinda. At the risk of provoking a break in diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda.
While the official reaction of the Rwandan authorities is still waiting, Jeune Afrique returns on the course of this “witness of the 23rd year” and the circumstances of his arrival in the file.
1. What position did James Munyandinda hold in 1994?
On the eve of the genocide, James Munyandinda was a young soldier who joined the ranks of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the essentially Tutsi rebellion that had been fighting the Juvenal Habyarimana regime since October 1990.
According to his testimony, in February 1994 he was part of a team of ten men whose mission was to keep two SAM-16 missiles, contained in boxes closed with padlocks, stored at the headquarters of the rebellion in Mulindi (North). .
Munyandinda claims to have seen these missiles, which he would have kept in memory, 23 years later, the serial numbers. In addition, he allegedly participated in loading them into an RPA truck for delivery to Kigali in February or March 1994, where he was allegedly used to shoot down the presidential Falcon 50.
2. Under what conditions did he defect?
After the genocide, James Munyandinda continues his military career in Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) until 2008. There, his version diverges with that of our sources in Kigali.
Before Judge Herbaut, the witness claims that a senior intelligence official then sent him for a clandestine operation in Uganda. His mission: to liquidate or forcefully bring back to Rwanda Sergeant Richard Kabano, whom he is close to, because he would disseminate sensitive information about massacres committed in Rwanda by the army. After making a show of accepting and entering Ugandan territory on 2 October 2008, Munyandinda claims to have ventured into the wild and to have been living in hiding in Uganda for fear of risking the same fate as Kabano – because he had , he says, the same kind of information.
3. Does James Munyandinda have links with negationist or even genocidal circles?
Despite his career as a former RPA rebel who fought the perpetrators of the genocide, James Munyandinda published various openly denial writings.
Thus, in January 2015, in an open letter to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, close to the Rwandan regime, James Munyandinda did not hesitate to say, about the role of the RPF during the genocide: “When the extermination of the Tutsis from the inside began in Rwanda, Paul Kagame […] sent to the firing squad some of my brothers-in-arms who had ventured to save Tutsis from the massacres; He also ordered RPA soldiers, including some members of his bodyguard, to kill as many Tutsis as possible. […] In the aftermath of the genocide, the height of cynicism, he presented himself as the hero who had stopped him. And he then ordered some of his men to kill innocent Hutu civilians throughout the country. “