KIGALI, Rwanda - A group of Rwandans living in the United Kingdom (UK) has promised to return home and “cause democratic political change” despite being accused of taking part in terrorist activities.
Some of the members of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) in the UK say their activities are aimed at democratically removing President Paul Kagame’s regime that has been in power since 1994.
Mr Jean de Dieu Niyonkuru, a Rwandan refugee in the UK, said as Rwandan refugees living outside their country, 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.
However, the Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambage said RNC is a terrorist group, 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 outside and inside Rwanda will carry on the cause of liberating their motherland.
Once championed in western capitals as a reformer, Mr Kagame has been criticised for overseeing constitutional changes to prolong his rule and cracking down on opposition voices.
The RNC is mostly composed of former high-ranking Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) officers and other Rwandan refugees.
The Rwanda National Congress is Rwandan opposition group in exile, established in the United States on 12 December 2010.
Some of the prominent founders include Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, Gerald Gahima, and Patrick Karegeya. Karegeya was murdered on 31 December 2013 in South Africa where had been living in exile.
Other members of the RNC are spread across several European countries including the UK, Belgium, and United States of America among others.
Mr Kagame has on several occasions referred to the RNC and other opposition groups as terrorist organizations.
However, in a statement recently, the RNC spokesperson Jean Paul Turayishimye insists their group is founded on democratic principles.
“We would like to remind the public that we are an organization founded on democratic, justice and human rights principles,” Mr Turayishimye said.