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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Six arrested over Kayumba shooting

JOHANNESBURG - South African police have arrested six people in connection with the weekend shooting of former Rwandan army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. However, Police spokesman Brig. Govindsamy Mariemuthoo refused to give the nationalities of the suspects.  “We are still busy with the investigations.” he said, adding that more arrests were likely.

No details were given of where and when they were arrested, the circumstances leading to the arrest or where they were being held. But reports indicate that one of the arrested is a former Rwandan national known to Nyamwasa, although some reports claimed that all the suspects were Rwandan, one of them a former soldier.

Nyamwasa was hospitalised on Saturday after being shot in the stomach outside his Johannesburg home in what his wife, Rosette, said was an assassination attempt. Mariemuthoo said the six would be charged with attempted murder but declined to give details, saying the investigations had reached a “sensitive stage”. Sources close to Nyamwasa told the media on Sunday that he was recovering and should be able to leave hospital in a few days.

Once a close confidante of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Nyamwasa fled Kigali in February. He has since accused the president of corruption, charges which Kagame denies.  Rwanda’s government linked Nyamwasa to grenade attacks in Kigali earlier this year and has previously tried to secure his extradition. Nyamwasa has denied the allegations.

There have been several defections from the military ahead of elections due in August. Nyamwasa fled to South Africa after falling out with Kagame. Later, he accused Kagame of using an anti-corruption campaign to frame opponents. Meanwhile, Rwanda has denied responsibility in the shooting. Foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Kagame’s government “does not condone violence” and that she trusted South Africa would investigate the shooting thoroughly.

Kagame, who has been in power for 16 years, is viewed by many in the West as one of Africa’s more dynamic leaders, although critics have expressed fears that a string of recent happenings, including the Nyamwasa shooting, may dent his image.

This is not the first time Rwanda has been accused of attempting to kill or killing a prominent Rwandan exile. Former Rwandan interior minister Seth Sendashonga was killed in May 1998 in Nairobi, Kenya.

His widow later testified that she believed Rwanda was behind her husband’s killing. She claimed he had been set to testify before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is trying the suspected masterminds of the genocide. A Kenyan judge acquitted the three suspects in Sendashonga’s killing, saying the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they committed the crime. The judge added that the Rwandan government’s refusal to waive diplomatic immunity for some of its embassy officials suggested that there was a political motive behind the killing.

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