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'I was shot for defying Kagame', says Rwanda's ex-army boss
by Staff Writers
Johannesburg (AFP) June 21, 2012

G.Bissau ex-navy chief freed from prison
Bissau (AFP) June 21, 2012 - Guinea-Bissau's ex-navy chief, who was jailed for plotting a failed coup in December, said Thursday he had been freed, a decision taken by the latest coup leader in the chronically unstable nation.

"I was released yesterday (Wednesday) and I am visiting certain friends," Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto told AFP as he paraded through Bissau in a large black car, surrounded by bodyguards.

A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision to release Na Tchuto, who has been linked to previous coup bids and was named a drug kingpin by the United States, was taken by army chief Antonio Indjai who successfully ousted government on April 12.

He was released with 18 co-accused in what political observers described as a dramatic turn of events.

"They were accused of wanting to overthrow Carlos Gomes Junior's government, which was then overthrown by the army (in April) so I see no reason to keep them in detention which would only have fueled hatred between our soldiers," said the military source.

Witnesses reported that Na Tchuto's home was closely garded by naval officers.

The former navy chief is one of several soldiers under European Union and US sanctions.

Na Tchuto was first accused of a coup attempt in 2008, and fled the country to Gambia.

He resurfaced in April 2010 during an army mutiny in which Indjai ousted army chief Jose Zamora Induta.

With Indjai now army chief, Na Tchuto was re-appointed as navy chief which drew swift condemnation from abroad.

The two men were close allies, but later fell out and Na Tchuto was arrested after a December 26, 2011 failed coup bid which saw clashes between troops in what some observers said was a settling of scores between the two men.

On April 12 Indjai led a coup against Gomes' regime, in the middle of an election process, and the country has since set up a transition government.

Constant power struggles between the army and state in the former Portuguese colony have led to chronic instability, coups, counter-coups and assassinations. This has allowed cocaine trafficking to Europe to flourish.

Rwanda's former army chief told a South African court Thursday that he was shot two years ago for defying President Paul Kagame, as he testified in the trial of six men accused of attempting to kill him.

"The reasons why I would think anyone would want me dead is that I have over the years defied the leadership, in particular President Kagame, on things that needed change," Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa told a Johannesburg court.

Three Rwandans and three Tanzanians are accused of attempting to murder Nyamwasa in Johannesburg, where he was shot in the stomach outside his home on June 19, 2010, four months after receiving political asylum in South Africa.

Nyamwasa recounted in detail how he was shot in his car while his driver waited to turn into the driveway of his gated complex. The shooter shoved his gun through the driver's open window into the car and fired.

The general was hit in the right lower abdomen as he was ducking out of the car. After a scuffle, Nyamwasa ran to his house 15 metres (yards) away and closed the security gate.

"He was running behind me and shouted 'I'll kill you! I'll kill you!'," recounted Nyamwasa. The gunman ran off when neighbours started shouting.

The bullet is still lodged in his spinal chord and was not removed because at the time he did not have health insurance, Nyamwasa said.

The general said he believed that the assassination attempt was retribution for his claims that Kagame had ordered a former president's airplane shot down, an act that sparked the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

"There are facts in my mind that the president of Rwanda ordered the killing of former president of Rwanda (Juvenal) Habyarimana," Nyamwasa said.

But magistrate Stanley Mkhari refused to admit Nyamwasa's comments on Kagame as evidence in the case, branding them as speculation.

The general said he had also overheard a phone conversation of top Rwandan military official Brigadier Jack Nziza, discussing a plot to kill him.

"He said they were trying to find a way to eliminate me," Nyamwasa said.

Although Rwanda's government is not party in the case and has denied any involvement, Kigali has hired a local lawyer, Gerhard van der Merwe to sit in on the trial.

He told AFP he was asked "to do what I can to prevent unfounded allegations to be made against the government".

Kagame has previously been accused of ordering the shooting of Habyarimana's plane, which triggered a genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people, mainly ethnic Tutsis, were killed.

Nyamwasa himself has also been accused of involvement, which he denied. France has issued an arrest warrant for him in connection with an investigation into the incident.

Spain has also asked South Africa to extradite Nyamwasa because of the murder of 2,500 people, including a Spanish priest, at a stadium during the genocide.

He stressed he was accused of "command responsibility" and not murder, but denied that the officers who perpetrated the killings had been under his command.

The assassination trial has strained relations between South Africa and Rwanda, which wants Nyamwasa repatriated to serve a 24-year prison sentence after a military court last year tried him in absentia on charges of desertion, defamation and threatening state security.

He denies the Rwandan court had jurisdiction over him.

He also faces terrorism charges for allegedly masterminding grenade attacks in the Rwandan capital in the run-up to 2010 presidential elections.

The trial resumes on July 10.

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Almost 170 DR Congo soldiers desert ranks: mutineers
Goma, Dr Congo (AFP) June 21, 2012 - Almost 170 soldiers, including seven senior officers, have quit the army in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo to join a mutinous armed force known as M23, the mutineers said Thursday.

The deserters were all members of a former rebel movement, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), who were integrated into the army early in 2009, following a peace pact.

They "left the ranks of the FARDC (Congolese army) yesterday (Wednesday)," Lieutenant-Colonel Vianney Kazarama, spokesman for the March 23 Movement (M23), told AFP.

Three lieutenant-colonels and four majors deserted from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) with troops under their command -- a total of 166 men -- and brought their arms and ammunition with them, Kazarama said.

With the exception of a lieutenant-colonel who came from Sud-Kivu province, all the senior officers were based in Nord-Kivu province, where the army has been fighting M23 forces. One of the majors was responsible for logistics and two others were in army intelligence, the M23 spokesman said.

A senior officer in the FARDC confirmed to AFP that "certain officers are in the process of deserting", without giving their numbers.

"I can't be surprised because they are ex-CNDP men who are going to join their brothers. It's not surprising that they are taking weapons because until their desertion they held command posts in the FARDC," he added.

The deserters all "responded to the call by Colonel (Sultani) Makenga", the leader of M23 and a former leader of the CNDP who deserted early in May and demanded the full implementation of the peace accords of March 23, 2009, which covered the integration of CNDP rebels into the army, Kazarama said.

Troops who were once in the CNDP have been deserting for weeks, blaming their poor conditions in the army, and the FARDC has attacked them in the Virunga National Park, near the border with Rwanda and Uganda.

In spite of frequent shelling by the army, the mutineers have held their positions on the Runyony, Mbuzi and Chanzu hills in the park.

In recent days, a relative calm has prevailed in the conflict, which has displaced 200,000 local villagers and turned more than 20,000 into refugees on the far side of the border, according to the United Nations.

People are still leaving the combat zone, UN sources said.

"The residents who fled the fighting in Runyony have come back, and others elsewhere are fleeing the threat and the mistreatment on the part of the FARDC," Kazarama said.


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Rwanda's ex-army boss testifies of betrayal in murder bid
Johannesburg (AFP) June 20, 2012
Former Rwandan army chief Faustin Nyamwasa took the stand Wednesday in the trial of six men accused of trying to kill him, detailing how his trusted driver had turned against him. Nyamwasa was shot in the stomach outside his Johannesburg home on June 19, 2010, four months after arriving in South Africa, after abandoning his diplomatic post in India. Nyamwasa told the court that his drive ... read more

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