A former high ranking leader of a Rwandan Tutsi rebel group operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, Major Gerard Ntashamaje, has defected and returned to Rwanda from his exile in Belgium. Major Gerard Ntashamaje was, until February 2009, the president of Rally of the Rwandan People (RPR – Inkeragutabara). He returned to Rwanda on August 2, 2011.
Gerard Ntashamaje’s life has been a very interesting journey. His father was one of the few Tutsis who remained close and sometimes within the upper circles of the power after the majority Hutu ethnic group overthrew the Tutsi monarchy. He occupied the positions of government minister, Supreme Court Justice, Attorney General, and Advisor to the Rwandan Hutu presidents. He remained a high ranking politician until he was assassinated in 1994.
With or without his father’s encouragement, the young General Ntashamaje, then a rising lawyer within the private sector, abruptly left his well paid job at the Rwandan unique beer brewery, BRALIRWA, and joined the Rwandan Patriotic rebellion in early 1990s.
He rose to the rank of Major within the Rwandan Patriotic Army and was among the officers who took the capital Kigali after horrendous massacres. Major Gerard Ntashamaje is himself accused of leading large scale massacres of Hutu civilians committed in the capital city of Kigali.
However, around 2000, he fell off with the current Rwandan dictator, General Paul Kagame and fled the country. He was subsequently accused, like most of the Tutsi dissenters, of embezzlement.
While in exile, Major Generard Ntashamaje joined multiple opposition groups in exile. His constant jumping from one opposition group to another raised suspicions, some accusing him of intelligence with the Rwandan security services.
Eventually, he joined a new Tutsi armed opposition group, the Rally for the Rwandan People (RPR), that was formed in Uganda by his former RPA comrades. The mostly Tutsi RPR, which had an armed branch, RPR-Inkeragutabara, eventually allied itself with the mostly hutu rebel group, the Rally of Unity and Democracy, RUD-Urunana. The armies of the two rebel organizations, National Army – Imboneza and RPR-Inkeragutabara, eventually merged.
Meanwhile, under the pressure from Rwandan Intelligence services and with the help of a Rwandan operative mole within the RPR, Sergeant Sasita (see our article <a href=”http://www.afroamerica.net/AfricaGL/?s=Sasita“>European Security Services Investigating Two Alleged Rwandan Operatives in France: Sgt Sasita and Lt Murenzi</a>, Ugandan security services rounded up RPR and RUD leaders based in Kampala and deported them to Rwanda in exchange of Ugandan dissidents based in Rwanda. The remaining RPR soldiers crossed the border to DRC and joined RUD-Urunana’s AN-Imboneza.
After the prominent RPR leaders were arrested, Major Gerard Ntashamaje was promoted to President of the organization, but remained in Belgium.
It is in this role that he participated in the Rome, Kasiki, and Kisangani processes along with RUD-Urunana leaders, as a party to the negotiation with the DRC government.
During the Rome and Kisangani process, Major Gerard Ntashamaje travelled to Congolese jungles and met closely with RPR-Inkeragutabara troops.
When Kasiki refugees camp was attacked by Rwandan troops on February 9, 2009, the Kisangani process collapsed. After the collapse, Major Gerard Ntashamaje took a low profile. He was a few months later expelled from the RPR-Inkeragutabara when the army officers learned that he had travelled to Bujumbura and met Rwandan intelligence service chief, Colonel Emmanuel Ndahiro.
It is believed that the trip to Burundi in 2009 was a first step towards returning to Rwanda. According to sources in Kigali, he is for now being well received and will be presented to media in the coming days.
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