USA-Rwanda: Following a Release of Some Rwandan Political Prisoners, USA Government Allegedly Considering Imposing Sanctions Against Rwandan Government Leaders

Paul Kagame during the 2015 Rwandan Elections

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In late March 2023, the Rwandan government, under the pressure from the Unites States Government and the Qatar Emir, released political opponents held for more than two years. Among those released is the well known Paul Rusesabagina, a receiver of US Presidential Medal.  Following the release, many dynamics have been uncovered, including the pressure from the US Government on the Rwandan leaders regarding human rights abuses and the role played by the commercial interests between the oligarchy ruling Rwanda and Qatar government. According to  unnamed sources, as the security situation in the DRC worsened and the human rights abuses in Rwanda went beyond  and become more prominent,  the US Government and the US Senate have been  mulling over economic sanctions targeting Rwandan leaders, including the ruling oligarch, General Paul Kagame and his family..

The release of Paul Rusesabagina and other political prisoners has highlighted the amount of pressure on the Rwandan leaders from both the US and other governments and international organizations, including the United Nations.  The latest reports  discussed in UN Security Council  and other UN organizations, have emphasized the  fact that  Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF),  violating the  U.N. procedures and measures regarding  DRC,  have  led  a  “direct intervention” into the DRC,  conducting independent military operations and supporting the M23 rebel group. The reports have even gone further, pointing to the fact that RDF has been operating under the cover of M23 rebels, beyond the supply of uniforms,  weapons, ammunitions, training, and other military support to M23 rebels, confirming the various reports by AfroAmerica Network since the beginning of the invasion (see here: USA-DR Congo-Rwanda: UN Security Council Report Confirms Rwanda Military Support of M23 Rebels and USA Government Mulling Over Imposing Sanctions Against Rwandan Government Leaders as US Secretary of State in on the way to Visit the Region).

Planned Actions Against Rwanda Leaders and Other Actors.

AfroAmerica Network has now learned that the US Government has made steps towards sanctionning the Rwandan leaders, folowing the release of the political prisonners, due to the pressure from the US Government and Qatar.  In fact, according to the sources, multiple actions are planned including:

  • sanctions against the Rwandan dictator and the members of the oligarchy ruling Rwanda, and their families;
  • military actions against RDF troops under the cover of M23 rebels;
  • military actions against foreign  armed groups and congolese militias based in Eastern DRC;
  • demobilization of armed groups and repatriation of Rwandan refugees based iin Eastern DRC; 


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The DRC invasions by M23 rebels and Rwandan troops  have led to major humanitarian tragedies, including the massive displacements and killings of civilians due to systematic attacks and indiscriminate bombings and shelling. The attacks have also targeted the UN peace keeping mission, MONUSCO, and led to violent popular protests against the UN mission and the Rwandan government.

Potential Actions Against Rwanda Leaders After Years of Turning Blind Eyes to Repression.

Meanwhile, the appalling human rights abuses in Rwanda have increasingly created a major concern around the World after so many years of turning the blind eyes. The concerns have become a priority  close to three decades of a repressive dictatorship, two decades of clinging onto power and continual adjustment of constitutional term limiits, several documented kidnapping, disappearances, and killings of opposition leaders,  and  repression against civil riights advocates and free press. Over decades,  the Rwandan government has continued to benefit from international aid. To date, the international aid still fundsthe Rwandan national budget up to more than 70%.  Several reports have also documented the fact that, although all governments institutions, includiing the government, the army, the diplomatic institutions, the businesses, the police, the judiciary system, the intelligence,  are all dominated by a small grroup of related members of the oligarchy, some abuses have targeted whoever dares to question the tyrannical system, including former members of the oligarchy. 

Hence, the sanctions by the US Government may also push international organizations and operators supporting Rwanda to take action against Rwandan leaders. Paul Kagame, who was also usually invited by partners and lobbyists in the US, is expected to be only allowed to stay in New York City, in case he decided to attend the UN conferences.

Push for Open Negotiations with  the Leaders of the Rwanda Opposition Groups and Repatriation of Refugees.

 M23 rebels have been asking for negotiations with the DRC government.  As a consequential measure, the United Nations and the US government  are also expected to ask the Rwandan government to have negotiations with the leaders of  the major Rwandan oppositions groups, including the armed groups based  in the DR Congo.

The negotiations would also lead to a process for the repatriation of Rwandan refugees, who have been fleeing to DR Congo since 1994. These negotiations may involve the government of DR Congo and, potentially, other actors from the international community.

The Fate of the Key Agent in the Kidnapping of Paul Rusesabagina.

The sources have also pointed to the fact that the Rwandan government has started to get ready for the sanctions,  taking preemptive steps and acttions. One of the actions targeted astor Constantin Niyomwungeri, a church pastor who, working with the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB),  tricked Paul Rusesabagina onto a private plane from Dubai to get kidnapped and brought to Rwanda.  

According to AfroAmerica sources in Rwanda,  Constantin Niyomwungeri was recently discretely arrested by RIB and has since disappeared. The sources have added that the objective is to silence Constantin Niyomwungeri, when Paul Rusesabageni starts to disclose actual information and facts regarding his kidnapping.

However, other sources have said that the US have asked that Pastor Constantin Niyomwungeri be extradited to the US to face trial for his role in the kidnapping.  According to the sources, Paul Rusesabagina, now in the US, has started to work on a documentary movie about his kidnapping, trial, imprisonment and release. He has avoided  contacts with the media as the documentary is being produced.

Many questions remain on the specifics of the planned sanctions and the consequences on the Rwandan government in general. 

 AfroAmerica Network is still closely following the situation.


@AfroAmerica Network 2023