Exiled Rwandans labeled “terrorists” vow to return to the country

A group of Rwandans residing in the United Kingdom (UK), despite being accused of participating in terrorist activities, vowed to return home and “cause democratic political change.”

Some of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) members in the United Kingdom claim their actions are directed at democratically removing the regime of President Paul Kagame who have been in power since 1994.

As Rwandan refugees living outside their country, Mr Jean de Dieu Niyonkuru, a Rwandan refugee in the UK, said they are monitoring what is happening in Rwanda, including “non-existent political space for dissenting voices”.

“We, RNC, have been called a terrorist organisation by Rwanda Government, but we are a legitimate opposition political party operating outside of Rwanda and our main aim is that very soon our country will be accommodative of every Rwandan regardless of their political inclination,” Mr Niyonkuru says.

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However, Maj Gen Frank Mugambage, ambassador of Rwanda to Uganda, said RNC is a group of terrorists, adding that he is not interested in what they have to say.

“You are talking to terrorists? If you are talking to terrorists, that’s your business, keep me out of that please,” Maj Gen  Mugambage said on Thursday.

Mr Niyonkuru said hundreds of refugees and freedom fighters will continue  in their quest to liberate their motherland outside and inside Rwanda.

Once advocated as a reformer in Western capitals, Mr Kagame was criticized for supervising constitutional modifications in order to prolong his rule and crack down on voices of opposition.

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The RNC consists mostly of former high-ranking officers of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and other refugees from Rwanda.

The Rwanda National Congress is an exiled Rwandan opposition group formed on 12 December 2010 in the United States.

Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, Gerald Gahima, and Patrick Karegeya are among the prominent founders. Karegeya was assassinated in South Africa on 31 December 2013, where he was living in exile.

Other RNC members are scattered throughout several European nations, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the United States of America.

Mr Kagame referred to the RNC and other opposition groups as terrorist organizations on several occasions.

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The RNC spokeswoman Jean Paul Turayishimye, however, insists in a recent declaration that their group is based on democratic values.

“We would like to remind the public that we are an organization founded on democratic, justice and human rights principles,” Mr Turayishimye said.

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