Friday, July 23, 2010


Rwanda Election: Calls Mount for Independent Autopsy of Slain Opposition Leader
By Matthew Clark
The Christian Science Monitor, July 21, 2010
Photo: "Rwandan President Paul Kagame attends the launch of his re-election campaign at a rally in the capital, Kigali, July 20." (Hereward Holland/Reuters)
"Rwanda's election season is in full swing and prominent critics of President Paul Kagame are turning up dead ahead of the Aug. 9 vote. Are the killings politically motivated? That possibility has United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concerned enough that he has urged Mr. Kagame's government to conduct a full investigation into the latest death: that of Democratic Green Party vice chairman Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, who was found last week nearly decapitated. But the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that an autopsy is needed after conflicting police statements have muddied the waters. 'This is the second killing of an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government in less than a month,' said HRW boss Kenneth Roth, referring also to Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist who was shot dead outside his home in June. 'An independent autopsy and inquiry are necessary to determine what happened to Rwisereka.' At first, authorities said he was the victim of a robbery, according to HRW, which said its own investigation revealed that the victim did not have any valuables on him at the time of the attack. Then, says HRW, police later said he was killed in a financial dispute. 'A thorough independent investigation would confirm or dispel these different explanations,' Mr. Roth said in a statement. Rwisereka was a longtime member of Kagame's Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), but broke ranks last year to start the Democratic Green Party with other disaffected RPF members. His killing comes amid a crackdown on the opposition and sporadic acts of violence -- including mysterious grenade attacks -- in recent months. Rwanda specialists say a power struggle for control of the RPF is under way and that Kagame is seeking to quash the minirebellion within his ranks. [...]"

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