“Obsessed with their terrible past, the people of Rwanda have achieved the classic Faustian pact – trading freedom for peace,” Wrong writes. “But most analysts are wondering if the deal can survive Kagame’s departure.”
Some critics of the president have died under mysterious circumstances.
The narrative of the new book relates to the death of Colonel Patrick Karegeya, a former foreign intelligence chief in Rwanda, who was a prominent dissident when he was strangled in a South African hotel room in 2014. Suspicion fell on Rwandan authorities, especially after Kagame said at a meeting a few days later that the price would be paid by those “who are still alive who are plotting against Rwanda, whoever they may be. Whoever it is, it’s a matter of time. ”
The Rwandan government denies having anything to do with Karegey’s death. But South African authorities have issued arrest warrants for two Rwandans suspected of involvement in the murder. Rwanda did not extradite them for indictment.
Later in 2014, South Africa expelled some Rwandan diplomats for alleged roles in the attack on another dissident. That attack in Johannesburg was the third attempt on the life of former Rwandan army chief General Kayumba Nyamwas, a Karegey associate who still leads a prominent opposition group in exile.
Planned attacks on Rwandan dissidents in countries from neighboring Uganda to Sweden have been reported. For example, in 2011, British police warned at least two dissidents that the Rwandan government posed an “imminent threat” to their lives.
After Karegeya was strangled, the killer or killers left a “Don’t Disturb” sign on the door, giving them time to leave the country before detectives and staff discovered his body, according to Wrong, who spent years investigating the murder.
The title of her book is a metaphor for what Wrong and others see as the unpunished erosion of freedoms in Rwanda. Analysts have long pointed out that Kagame is fleeing strong criticism from global powers for long-standing guilt over a failure to prevent or stop the genocide that killed some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The gloomy events in Rwanda last week marked 27 years since the killings. In his speech Wednesday, Kagame said he did not care what the world thought of him, and accused former government officials in exile of spreading lies motivated by outrage.
“You can tell any lie about me. Feel free to do so. You can accumulate tons of blood. That will not change me, “he said. “Actually, this country is not going to change the way you want it to.”
Kagame, who has been Rwanda’s de facto leader since 1994 and president since 2000, has been praised for restoring order and making progress in economic development and health care.
But Wrongly wonders how a leader with a bad human rights record earned more honorary degrees than Barack Obama.
“Western aid to his aid-dependent country has not suffered, articles of admiration by foreign journalists have not stopped, sanctions have not been applied, and calls to Davos have not dried up,” Wrong writes for Kagame. “Caught in similar embarrassing situations, would any other African country show such a concession, year after year?” Russia, Saudi Arabia and China have certainly not been granted such leniency. “
Johnston Busingye, Rwanda’s justice minister, did not respond to calls seeking comment on allegations in “Do Not Disturb.” But the book’s focus on Karegey’s assassination was dismissed in a review published in Rwanda’s government newspaper, the New Times, which cites bias and accuses Wrong of “never embracing” Rwanda.
The guards have long cited poor results in Rwanda, noting that Kagame was re-elected with almost 99% of the vote in 2017.
In its review of Rwanda for 2020, Human Rights Watch said that after “years of threats, intimidation, mysterious deaths and high profile, politically motivated trials, few opposition parties remain active or make public comments on government policies.” And Amnesty International in its latest assessment cited limited space for opposition groups, several cases of enforced disappearances and suspected deaths in custody, including the case of Kizit Mihigo, a singer and government critic who was found dead in a police cell last year.
Over the years, Kagamea has been challenged by a group of former allies from his Rwandan Patriotic Front party who are Tutsi colleagues. That group disintegrated as Kagame consolidated his authority, often with disastrous consequences for opponents.
But the Rwandan National Congress, co-founder of the Karegeya opposition group, is dominated by former members of the ruling party in Rwanda and remains open. The group, which has been outlawed at home as a terrorist entity, says it works for a “united, democratic and prosperous nation inhabited by free citizens”.
This story was clarified to show that South African authorities have issued arrest warrants for two Rwandans suspected of involvement in the murder of Karegea, but have not been extradited for trial.
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