The AFP reports that Rwandan authorities have “arrested a suspected mastermind of recent grenade attacks in the capital which injured 16 people this week and killed two others last month.”
Deo Mushayidi, a former member of the then rebel group Rwandan Patriotic Front that ended the 1994 genocide, was arrested in neighbouring Burundi.
“Deo Mushayidi, one of the main perpetrators of these acts, was arrested in Burundi and is currently in the hands if the police,” [Attorney General Martin] Ngoga told the state-run Radio Rwanda.
He said the police had “sufficient evidence” against the alleged mastermind, though he refused to speculate on what, exactly, qualified as “sufficient.”
In a disappointing twist, Mushayidi was not filmed by state TV in media plot, as with last month’s failed, er, “coup” in Bujumbura. But his arrest is a new wrinkle for those of us who have been following along with our grenade-attack scorecards at home.
February’s attacks, you’ll recall, were initially pinned on FDLR rebels, before the focus switched to two renegade RPF malcontents this week. Mushayidi now enters the picture as the latest arch-fiend who, as the government would have us believe, “belongs to a ‘network’ including fugitive Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa and exiled Col Patrick Karegeya which wants to cause ‘state insecurity,’” according to reports in the Rwanda News Agency.
Though a late-comer to the recent unrest, Mushayidi is no stranger to the political scene here in Kigali. Allan Thompson, writing in The Media and the Rwanda Genocide, offers the following biographical snippet on Mushayidi, during his time as a journalist with the newspaper Imboni.
After Joseph Sebarenzi, the popular Tutsi speaker of Parliament, was forced to step down Imboni revealed the RPF’s behind-the-scenes role. The government then seized the journal and banned it. Following President Kagame’s attack on the paper, its two Tutsi journalists left the country: Deo Mushayidi (also president of the Rwandan Associations of Journalists) and Jason Muhayimana.
It was at that time, according to AFP, that Mushayidi “fled to Belgium in 2000 and joined several diaspora opposition groups and last year formed his own party.”
At this point the narrative splinters, depending on just who you want to believe. Mushayidi in exile was a vocal critic of the Kagame government, and became a frequent guest on both the BBC and the VOA. You can hear some of his criticisms of the Kagame regime here (in French, with half-assed English translations).
But the Rwanda News Agency reports that “Mr. Mushayidi allegedly fled with his partner Jason Muhayimana – who was publisher of the same newspaper, after members of the association management team started agitating for accountability of a yet-an unknown amount of funding from the UN agency UNESCO to support the Press House.” In effect, Mushayidi was said to be a crook. (President Kagame allegedly said of him at a press conference, “Don’t you know that Mushayidi ran away with money of his colleagues in the media”)
The report goes on to make more strenuous accusations.
In August 2007, Mr. Mushayidi took his campaign to another level. As regional Tripartite Plus army chiefs were mapping out strategies end the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels in D R Congo, Mr. Mushayidi and other political opposition parties in Europe announced a plan to cooperate with the rebels.
Mr. Mushayidi teamed up with exiled Defense Minister Gen. Ben Habyarimana, ex-Prime Minister Rwigema Celestin and other exiles – announcing that they were merging with the guerrillas to oust President Kagame from power by force.
And there you have it: a former Kagame stalwart, now teaming with FDLR rebels and RPF cast-offs, conspiring to disrupt the president’s cakewalk this August through a series of attacks – coordinated, it seems, from three separate countries.
Oddly, it seems no less plausible than any of the other theories I’ve heard lately.