He left Rwanda in early 2010, survived assassination, formed an opposition party with three of his closest friends and they turned out be the biggest challenge to the reign of their former boss President Paul Kagame back home in Rwanda. But if the latest revelations are anything to go by, the future of General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa is going to change forever in the next few months.
General Kayumba has sent an emissary who is travelling via the United States and Britain, and finally the east African region, with a confidential message addressed to Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali. According to sources inside the South African establishment, information which is corroborated by others in Washington and London, General Kayumba would like the process to end into him going back to Rwanda.
The timelines given by the different sources point to a possible final settlement before the end of February. But others have said Kayumba is facing pressure from so many quarters for him to initiate some kind of rapprochement towards President Kagame.
South Africa’s ruling party the African National Congress is said to be behind the development. A senior ANC official has been given this task of “placing General Kayumba in the good books of the Rwandan government”, according to a source in the ANC.
That senior ANC official is one of South Africa’s richest businessmen and had several meetings with General Kayumba and Patrick Karegeya between July and November last year. Sources privy to the meetings say Kayumba and Karegeya wanted that ANC official to finance their Rwanda National Congress delegates conference which they had planned to take place later in November.
The conference in Johannesburg was organized along with a series of others which would have taken place at same time in London, Washington, Paris, Brussels and Sydney. However, on 18th October last year the South African foreign ministry delivered a letter reminding General Kayumba and Karegeya that the conference cannot take place on its territory.
The next day on 19th October, Kayumba and Karegeya summoned senior members of RNC based in South Africa to an urgent meeting at Protea Hotel in Centurion, a suburb of Johannesburg. The tense meeting lasted from 6pm to 9pm, where Kayumba and Karegeya informed the members that they had received the said letter. However, Kayumba assured the members that the letter won’t affect their party’s activities. He emphasized that the delegates conference will have to take place.
In the days which followed, it increasingly became clear to many RNC members that the conference would not happen. To show the members that they were in charge, Kayumbachanged the naming of the conference into INGANDO, a Kinyarwanda meaning for training program. At first it was supposed to last two days in late November, but it was moved to 21-22, December. But even so, the event took place on a single day 21st December.
Information from South African ANC insiders and some senior faces in the RNC Brussels chapter have indicated that the dates kept changing because there was no money. To illustrate the seriousness of the financial problems, these sources claim that less than 50 people attended the INGANDO when they had budgeted for over 200.
The maneuvers behind the scenes which led the senior ANC official to turn from a possible RNC financer to a person helping Kayumba to negotiate his return to Rwanda, are not known at the moment. What we know is that Kayumba had underlined to that senior ANC official that he was prepared to make a personal apology to President Kagame if that is what it would take to move the process quickly.
General Kayumba was a former chief of the Rwandan army. He left public and army service for some time to go for studies in the UK. He also served as head of all Rwanda’s intelligence apparatus before he was transferred to India as ambassador. General Kayumba left Rwanda around February 2010 to eventually become one of President Kagame’s fiercest critics.
He survived an assassination attempt on 19th June the same year. He joined up with Colonel Patrick Karegeya, a former spy chief, Dr Theogene Rudasingwa (a former chief of staff to Kagame and ambassador to US), and Dr Gerald Gahima, a former prosecutor general in Rwanda. They formed the Rwanda National Congress RNC which they have been promoting as a joint platform for all opposition groups.
The people who have revealed Kayumba’s plan to return to Kigali cannot correlate if it had anything to do Karegeya’s death on New Year’s Eve. But going by the reports of internal confrontation brewing between Kayumba and Karegeya, it is possible Kayumba had realized there could not be a future of the two men together.
If Kayumba is indeed desperate to return to Rwanda, he will join quite a list of Rwandan opposition figures who have run out of the country, then gone back.