The facts on the ground haven’t strayed too far from the rumors that spread after last night’s grenade blasts in Kigali. According to Reuters, “two synchronised grenade blasts injured 16 people in the Rwandan capital, and a third unrelated explosion killed one person in the west of the country.”
The explosions in Kigali happened within 10 minutes of each other in early evening on Thursday, a day after President Paul Kagame sought to quell fears of instability in the central African country, which has tight security after a genocide 16 years ago.
No suspects have been apprehended. Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga told Reuters that Rwandan authorities were still investigating possible links between last night’s attacks and similar grenade blasts last month.
“We are still investigating to know if they are coordinated or not and who are the real attackers. We are yet to know if it was the same (people),” said Kayiranga.
Conversations I’ve had here in Kigali suggest there are a lot of puzzled people scratching their heads. Everyone seems to have been caught off-guard by the sudden escalation in violence – not least of all President Kagame himself, who, by all accounts, was unusually flustered at a Wednesday press conference I blogged about earlier this week. Effectively laying down the gauntlet with his insistence that Rwanda remains airtight in the wake of last month’s blasts and recent rumors of an attempted coup, His Excellency PK seems to have all but dared whoever was behind last night’s attacks to prove him wrong. Were last night’s attacks just an act of defiance? And if so, by whom?
The Christian Science Monitor, meanwhile, weighs in on what the blasts might mean for the internal politics of the ruling party.
A Rwandan political analyst, speaking to the Monitor on condition of anonymity, says that in a tightly controlled environment like Rwanda, the grenade attacks are more likely to be expressions of problems within the ruling party, rather than attacks launched against the Rwandan state by rebel groups such as the banned Hutu militia – the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Which brings us back to AWOL Lt.-Gen. Kayumba, who recently told the BBC that “the Rwandan authorities had staged grenade attacks and then accused him of being behind them.”
“The regime in Kigali is really descending into total dictatorship and you know absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Gen. Nyamwasa told Voice of America in an exclusive interview [quoted here in Uganda's Daily Monitor]. “So, in this case you don’t have to have a different opinion, you are not supposed to debate and if you are perceived to have a different opinion on anything, then you are an enemy.”
So is Lieutenant-General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa an enemy of the state, or just another scapegoat?