BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
KAMPALA -A new rebel Movement has claimed responsibility for the recent wave of attacks in Rwanda and announced its intentions to topple the government of President Paul Kagame by force of arms.
The group, which calls itself, the National Liberation Forces (NLF), accuses Kagame of dividing the nation, suppression of civil liberties, amending the Constitution to stay in office, harassment of political opponents; and failing to address poverty, starvation and mass unemployment.
“We therefore created the armed forces known as the National Liberation Forces (NLF) and we assigned them the mission to put an immediate end to the dictatorial power of the RPF Kagame,” reads a statement issued by the so-called Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (RMDC).
According to ChimpReports RMDC is led by Paul Rusesabagina, a wealthy Rwandan humanitarian, who says, while working as a house manager at the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, hid and protected 1,200 Hutu and Tutsi refugees from the Interahamwe militia during the Rwandan genocide.
He has since won international awards for this alleged heroic act.
Rusesabagina was praised for shinning a spotlight on the crimes committed by the genocidal regime. He would later turn his guns on Kagame – accusing the president of human rights abuses.
On April 6, 2006, Kagame responded: “Rusesabagina should try his talents elsewhere and not climb on the falsehood of being a hero, because it’s totally false.”
It now appears Rusesabagina has been quietly recruiting militants to fight President Kagame.
Rusesabagina is deputized by Callixte N. Sankara, who also is the spokesperson of the military wing.
Third in command is Wilson Irategeka, the leader of a splinter group from the FDLR – a group of militias blamed for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
ChimpReports was yet to establish a link between NLF and dissident Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa.
NFL claimed responsibility for the attacks in Nyaruguru which is located in the South Western part of Rwanda – about 100kms from the Capital, Kigali.
Rwanda National Police said in a statement that “At about 23:30 Sunday, July 1, 2018, an armed gang with rifles attacked Nyaruguru District in Nyabimata Sector, Ruhinga Cell in Cyamuzi Village.”
Police said the “gang stole items belonging to community members including livestock and food items like beans, rice, Irish potatoes. The gang attacked through Nyungwe forest from Burundi and they fled back in the same direction. This is a similar incident that occurred in the same district less than two weeks ago.”
In their statement, the new rebel movement said they had carried out attacks in Cyangugu, Nyamagabe, Nyaruguru, Bugesera and Huye,” adding, “everywhere the soldiers of Kagame suffered casualties and those who escaped preferred to take their legs close to their necks.”
Rwandan officials said they were not aware of armed attacks in the aforementioned areas apart from Nyaruguru.
The rebel force’s source of funding and logistics remains unclear.
But pictures released by the movement shows militants wearing raincoats wielding heavy guns and rounds of ammunition.
The group’s ability to challenge the statusquo in Rwanda is unknown to us but Rwandan officials believe Kagame’s enemies have been recruiting fighters from across the world.
Burundi has since denied accusations of harbouring Rwandan rebels, saying it should be Rwanda to blame for arming and training Burundian dissidents to destabilize the reign of President Pierre Nkurunziza.
The unfolding developments point to the possibility of a protracted armed conflict between rebels and the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), a situation that could drag in other countries in the region.
RDF is yet to speak out on the attacks in Rwanda; tactfully letting police handle the matter possibly to avoid alarming citizens, neighbours and visitors.
Lt Col Innocent Munyengango did not respond to our communication seeking comments on the unfolding security situation.
However, President Kagame this past week warned saboteurs of tough time ahead, saying Rwanda was prepared for war if imposed on his country.
The President, whose rebel outfit, RPF, came to power in 1994 by force of arms, added: “RDF is trained and prepared to fight wars but not to start them with others.”
Flanked by the military’s top brass including Defence Minister Gen James Kabarebe and Chief of Defence Staff Gen Patrick Nyamvumba, Kagame added: “But if others make us their problem and choose to start a war with us, that is when we use judgment, determination and training to fight and finish it for them.”