Former Rwandan army chief Kayumba Nyamwasa was shot in Johannesburg this morning. According to his wife, it was an obvious assassination attempt. They were returning from shopping when a gunman opened fire on their car, wounding Kayumba in the stomach. The gunman didn’t ask for money or steal anything. Kayumba is in critical condition in a hospital.
It is to soon to know for sure who the culprit was, but people will obviously blame Kigali. The Rwandan government was accused of such assassinations in the early years after the genocide – the killing of former interior minister Seth Sendashonga in front of the UN in Nairobi in 1998 is an example of this – but in recent years there have been no similar incidents to my knowledge. If the allegations are true, then this incident only highlights to what extent Kigali perceives Kayumba as a threat and is worried about dissent within the RPF. Security sources in Rwanda have linked Kayumba to the grenade attacks in Kigali, and have alleged that he is touch with ex-CNDP rebels in the eastern Congo.
Analysts have worried about the possibility of internal dissent within the RPF, perhaps exacerbated by Rwanda-Uganda tensions, causing regional instability as the various factions ally themselves with proxies in the Congo.
Assassinating a figure so high profile as Kayumba would be a very risky move for the RPF, if indeed it was them (they have denied any involvement). It would be seen as a serious diplomatic affront by the South African government, which is hosting the World Cup, and Rwanda’s donors would also see this a dangerous development. It would mean that they were deeply concerned about Kayumba’s activities, to the extent where they thought if he was left unhindered he might threaten the regime.