Are there political murders in Rwanda 25 years after the genocide of the Tutsi minority?
About two weeks ago, the opposition leader Sylidio Dusabumuremyi was killed in a hospital 40 kilometers west of the capital Kigali. He was the nationwide coordinator of the United Democratic Forces Alliance (FDU-Inkingi), which is politically opposed to the almost omnipotent-looking head of state Paul Kagame. On September 23, two men attacked him in his business with knives. He died at the scene.
Dusabumuremyi is the fourth member of the FDU Inkingi that has suffered something over the last year. Party leader Victoire Ingabire, in political detention until 2018, does not want to believe in coincidences anymore. In the interview with SPIEGEL, she makes the security authorities serious allegations.
SPIEGEL: You could not attend the funeral of your close companion Sylidio Dusabumuremyi at the end of September. Why not?
Ingabire: His widow told me state security agencies told her it would be better if I did not come. Colleagues told me about the funeral, it was oppressive. Everyone was afraid.
SPIEGEL: Dusabumuremyi was your deputy until you were pardoned by President Kagame last year. Who do you think is responsible for his murder?
Ingabire: Let me put it this way: the government has the responsibility to protect all Rwandans, including opposition members. If someone is killed, the authorities must find out who it was.
SPIEGEL: Does the police do their job properly in this case?
Ingabire: Hard to say. Even during my detention, some of my comrades were killed in 2016 and 2017. So far, nobody had to answer for these crimes. We only hear that we should wait, because the investigations are continuing. And in the end, they just close the case.
SPIEGEL: What exactly happened?
Ingabire: In March, my personal assistant Anselme Mutuyimana, who also worked for the party, was found dead on his way to visit his parents. His body lay in a forest without any external injuries. A cause of death has never been known.
SPIEGEL: Have your comrades just disappeared?
Ingabire: Vice President of FDU Inkingi, Boniface Twagirimana, was in prison for a long time, as I was. In October of last year, he was to be transferred to another prison. A guard later told us that he had been picked up by two men, and since then, every trace of him has been missing. It was only in July that Eugene Ndereyimana, also a party member, disappeared on the way to a meeting. This is too much.
SPIEGEL: Because of the murder of Dusabumuremyi, there are now at least two people in police custody.
Ingabire: Yes, but they do not show pictures of them, there are no names. This is always the case with opposition victims. Why?
SPIEGEL: Why do not you believe in a chain of unfortunate coincidences?
Ingabire: In other criminal cases, the Rwandan security forces act quickly and efficiently, in murders, almost always photos of the suspects or gang suspected offenders are shown on television. That did not happen to our dead in the opposition. The incidents are an attempt to intimidate us.
SPIEGEL: What sense would such a plot have? President Kagame was voted by 99 percent of Rwandans. The constitution was amended with 98 percent approval for another term. He seems to have a firm grip on the country.
Ingabire: I do not believe the numbers. If he had this support, he would not be so anxious about the opposition. If the Rwandans could vote freely, they would not vote for the ruling RPF party.