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S Africa: Rwandan general testifies over shooting

Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa is a witness in case against three Rwandans and three Tanzanians, accused of trying to kill him in Johannesburg in 2010.

Johannesburg: An exiled Rwandan general, testifying under oath in South Africa on Thursday, described fearing he would become a political prisoner in his homeland and fleeing to Johannesburg, where he was shot.

Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa`s testimony brought East Africa`s fractious politics to South Africa, where he is a witness in the case against three Rwandans and three Tanzanians accused of trying to kill him in Johannesburg in 2010. Rwandan authorities have repeatedly denied involvement in the shooting, and hired South African lawyer Gerhard van der Merwe to monitor proceedings.

Since coming to South Africa in 2010, Nyamwasa, a former Rwandan military chief, has accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of crushing dissent and trampling on democracy after the two worked together to end the 1994 genocide that left more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead in Rwanda.
Rwandans in exile have accused Kagame of using his agents to hunt down his external foes, and foreign governments have raised similar concerns.

In Rwanda last year, a military court convicted Nyamwasa and three other dissidents in absentia and sentenced them to 20 years in prison for threatening state security and on other charges they deny.

Questions also have been raised about Nyamwasa`s conduct when he was close to Kagame. Nyamwasa and other senior Tutsis are accused of waging an extermination campaign against Hutus in the chaotic aftermath of Rwanda`s genocide, charges Nyamwasa denies.

Kagame led the Rwandan Patriotic Front to victory in Rwanda in 1994, ending the genocide. Nyamwasa served in Kagame`s security apparatus, rising to army chief, a post he held from 1998 to 2001, when he left to study global security in Britain. When he returned, he was appointed national security coordinator, and later ambassador to India.

In court today, as his wife and other supporters watched from the gallery, Nyamwasa described returning from India for his mother`s funeral and to attend a governing party meeting in 2010.

Observers speculate Kagame saw Nyamwasa as a political rival who was becoming too powerful.

In South Africa, working with other dissidents here and elsewhere, Nyamwasa established the Rwandan National Congress, which they say is dedicated to pursuing peaceful political change in their homeland.


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