In the latest misstep by opposition candidate Victoire Ingabire – whose political blunderings I commented on last week – the UDF-INKINGI is apparently backing down from its protests over the arrest of her assistant, Joseph Ntawangundi. Ms. Ingabire issued a press release over the weekend in which she seemed to confirm some of the troubling accusations made about Ntawangundi in recent weeks.
Since the arrest of Joseph Ntawangundi on 05th February 2010 and the subsequent incommunicado detention, UDF-INKINGI is conducting its own investigations. At this stage, troubling details about his curriculum vitae raise a certain amount of questions on the information he volunteered before the arrest. This has resulted in regrettable errors in our press release dated 05th February 2010.
Therefore we dissociate ourselves explicitly from the earlier records of his occupational environment, and call on serious investigations.
The press release in question, from February 5, strongly disputes the accusations made in the New Times, about Ntawangundi’s alleged crimes committed during the genocide, which it dismisses as “sheer lies.” So has new evidence come to light about Ntawangundi, prompting Ingabire to severe her ties? Or is she simply calculating that her former assistant is political dead weight? And really, if you’re a Rwandan opposition candidate with alleged FDLR links who’s returning to your country after 16 years in exile, shouldn’t you do a better job of vetting your closest aides? Anyone ask Ntawangundi for references?
The more I hear about Ingabire around town, the less credible I find her as a viable opposition candidate. (At least one reporter who has interviewed her described her to me as an “idiot.”) Her persistent refusal to answer questions related to her alleged links to the FDLR – including just who’s bankrolling her campaign – seem like the sort of politically expedient obfuscations of someone with something to hide. On a knee-jerk, free-speech level, I agree that her harassment by the Kagame government has been a bit unfair. But if she turns out to be the monstrous, ethnically divisive figure Kigali makes her out to be, is this really someone we should be defending?
Likewise, this otherwise excellent piece about Ingabire in Canada’s Globe and Mail misses a very important point by making her out to be some heroic, embattled figure, without acknowledging how controversial her candidacy is within Rwanda itself. How can you breezily write a sentence like this – “Ms. Ingabire says she doesn’t know how many Tutsis died in 1994, how many Hutus died, or even whether the number of Tutsi victims was larger than the number of Hutu victims.” – without mentioning that such a revisionist opinion contradicts a very large body of genocide scholarship? Should a journalist accept a statement like that at face value?
Our last bit of news today comes from the Ugandan Observer, which takes a few pot-shots at renegade Lt.-Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, last seen with a hot hand at the craps table in Sun City. There’s little in this very one-sided piece to shed new light on the swirling conspiracy theories involving Kayumba, Col. Karegeya, the FDLR, the Elders of Zion, and the CIA, but at the very least (the very, very least), it offers a cogent reminder that you reap what you sow.
Kayumba was one of the first architects of the RPF; according to a journalist I spoke to tonight, he continues to attract the loyalties of many in the Rwandan army, and is perceived as a definite threat to the Kigali regime. Yet for many years, he was as much a part of the Kagame junta as anyone in Rwanda. If the country has veered toward autocracy – “benevolent dictatorship,” if you prefer – under President Kagame, it was with Kayumba’s help. So whether he has indeed plotted against the state, or is simply being accused of the same by his former RPF buddies, it goes without saying that he’s had a hand in his eventual undoing. The state that he helped create is the state that now looks to devour him.