Inside story: How Habyarimana Betrayed Opposition Politicians

January 5, 1994 was a good day for the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) Inkotanyi and other oppositionpolitical parties in Rwanda.

The ruling party, MRND, had accepted an interim government made of PL, PSD and MDR, the opposition parties and RPF.

This was a big step in the Arusha negotiations that were signed on August 4, 1993.

Habyarimana was expected to swear in as interim president, and then to preside over the swearing in of the cabinet, before he changed his mind on the last minute.

Julien Kavaruganda, 35, the last born of late Joseph Kavaruganda, who was the chief Justice learnt about this incident, since his father was the competent authority in charge of receiving those expected to be sworn in.

That very morning, Habyarimana took oath and left the parliament, leaving everyone perplexed, including the chief justice, including the Prime Minister, Agathe Uwiringiyimana, who was to hand over to Faustin Twagiramungu in the interim cabinet.

Kavaruganda, now a lawyer, has told KTPress that according to protocol requirements, to proceed with the remaining events, the president had to renew invitation to the Prime Minister, the political parties and the Chief Justice. He did not.

Senate President Bernard Makuza observes a moment of silence After laying a wreath on the graves of the victims
Senate President Bernard Makuza observes a moment of silence After laying a wreath on the graves of the victims

Instead, he said, “Habyarimana came back in the afternoon with a different list of ministers to swear in from PL power, MDR power and CDR, which were not legal parties.”

The three parties, MDR, PL and CDR, were under-the-arm parties of MRND, all made of extremist Hutus.

The Chief Justice was supposed to approve this new list, but did not show up and the Prime Minister wasalso not present because they were not officially invited.

The President hated Kavaruganda for this”, said Justice Jean Mutashya, who is still serving in theSupreme Court. “Habyarimana and his allies said Kavaruganda was an accomplice of the “enemy” (RPF). They turned against him and the rest of us atthe supreme court.”

Agathe Uwiringiyimana
Late Agathe Uwiringiyimana former Prime Minister

The Hunt for politicians

This incident only exacerbated hatred against the Chief Justice and politicians in the opposition parties.

Early February 1994, a crowd of Interahamwe pelted stones on Kavaruganda’s car. The following day, they stormed his office but he escaped through the window.

After the crash of President Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, Kavaruganda was the competent authority to announce the Head of State’s death and to swear in an interim president to manage the crisis, according to Laurent Nkongori, a lawyer and commissioner at National Human Right Commission.

However, Kavaruganda‘s son says, “my father was not given that chance.” On April 7, 1994 around 3:00AM,Interahamwe, in collaboration with presidential guards, stormed Kavaruganda home in Kimihurura suburb.

Eight UN Ghanian body guards to Kavaruganda surrendered.

They entered his room and forced him out as theGhanaians were busy drinking beer from the family store, together with Interahamwe.

Kavaruganda was later killed by the militias, while the rest of the family managed to reach Canadian embassy then Kigali International airport and fled to Belgium

Other militias had gone after Frederic Nzamurambaho, then Minister of Agriculture from PSD, whose home was next to Kavaruganda’s.

The late Kavaruganda Joseph
The late Kavaruganda Joseph

They found him watch a soccer match and killed him,and everyone in the house, except the the childrenwho narrowly survived.

That very day, Agathe Uwiringiyimana, the Prime Minister was also killed.

Apart from Uwiringiyimana, who was buried at theHeroes’ Mausoleum, the two others are part of theeleven politicians who are buried at Rebero, Kicukiro district at the memorial site for the politicians, who are mourned every April 13.

The fallen politicians include; Landouard Ndasingwa, aka Lando, Venantie Kabageni, Charles Kayiranga, André Kameya, Aloys Niyoyita, Augustin Rwayitare, Jean de la Croix Rutaremara, Joseph Kavaruganda, Frederic Nzamurambaho, Felicien Ngango, Jean Baptiste Mushimiyimana, and Faustin Rucogoza.

After the end of the genocide, on July 4, 1994, RPF brought together all the other parties in the government of National Unity. They all still are part of the current government.

Over 14,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi are buried the Rebero Genocide Memorial, including 12 politicians who were killed for standing against the genocidal government in 1994.
Over 14,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi are buried the Rebero Genocide Memorial, including 12 politicians who were killed for standing against the genocidal government in 1994.

 




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