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Suspect Absence of Museveni at Kagame’s Swearing

Photo: from left: Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Museveni’s son Muhozi, Janet Museveni (Museveni’s wife)

Today, September 6, 2010, General Paul Kagame, the Rwandan dictator was sworn in as Rwandan President  for another  seven-year term. Several other African dictators attended the ceremony along with Paul Kagame’s Western advisors. One of the advisors, the American  pastor Rick Warren, a naturalized Rwandan, conducted the throning prayer, alongside  Rwandan catholic bishop of  Kabgayi, Smaragde Mbonyintege  and the leader of the Islamic religion in Rwanda, Head Mufti Sheik  Swaleh Habimana. Observers were shocked by General Paul Kagame’s speech that focused on attacking the West than on his program for the next seven years.
Pastor Rick Warren’s prayer and sermon mirrored  Paul Kagame’s speech, chanting a slogan that the “West is not God,” and in Kinyarwanda “Sibomana,” alluding to his constant statement that Paul Kagame is chosen by God to lead Rwanda as long as God, not the people, wants to. Perhaps meaning that only when God’s judgment on Paul Kagame is passed, his term will end.
The biggest surprise was not however the presence of a number of dictators or Pastor Rick Warren’s “Sibomana” slogans: it was the screaming absence of the  President of a Rwanda’s neighbor to the North, a person  whose instrumental help  propelled the  Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) from a ragtag organization to a formidable armed rebellion and funded, oversaw and godfathered  most if its phases from the start to  waging war, taking over power, and setting up the initial institutions.  That illustrious absent is none other than: Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda.

The reasons of his absence are multiple , at least from rumors and conspiracy theories abounding in Kigali.
Some say Yoweri Museveni is also fighting his own battles, always wary of the mounting opposition and a restless army to the point of not risking trips outside the county. Recently, he has expressed his desire to seek another term, despite his professed belief in the principle of limited number of terms. Every Ugandan AfroAmerica Network talked to is clear:  Yoweri Museveni, the self proclaimed democrat will, like a despot king, die in office.
Speaking of dying, the second reason put forward by people in Kampala and Kigali is that Yoweri Museveni, the ever active full of life and excitement Museveni, is not well: he is allegedly dying from a metastatic skin cancer, or melanoma. He cannot risk tiring trips and ceremonies that may endanger his frail health.  He is allegedly  rather focusing on his succession. And the anticipated successor is no other than Colonel Keinerugaba Muhoozi Museveni, Museveni’s own son (see picture), and the commander of  his father’s elite army.

Finally, the most reliable sources within the Rwandan government told AfroAmerica Network that the real reasons may be the combination of all the above plus the mistrust that had widened between Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni: Paul Kagame suspects Yoweri Museveni of undermining him by having supported the flight of General Kayumba Nyamwasa, giving asylum to Rwandan armed opposition groups, and conducting a negative diplomatic  relations tarniching the image of Paul Kagame in United Kingdom (UK)  and Unites States of America (USA).

Ironically, Yoweri Museveni views Rwandan Paul Kagame as the single most serious threat to his son’s access to power and reign.  Paul Kagame has given sanctuary and protection to Museveni’s most virulent opponents. However, Yoweri Museveni  could have been reassured if he had travelled to Rwanda. Paul Kagame was surrounded by sons who replaced their fathers: Bongo of Gabon, Gnassingbe of Togo, Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo were all in Kigali.
IN all 14 heads of state came to this colorful gathering:  Thomas Yayi Boni (Benin), Blaise Compaoré (Burkina Faso), Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi), Francois Bozize (CentreAfrican Republic), Idriss Déby Itno (Chad),  Joseph Kabila (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia), Ali Ben Bongo (Gabon), Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Bingu wa Mutharika (Malawi), Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria), Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia), Faure Gnassingbe (Togo), Rupiah Banda (Zambia)
Whatever the reasons of Yoweri Museveni’s absence, his empty chair may be an other ominous sign of something gone awry in Rwanda.

©AfroAmerica Network, 2010

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