US warns Rwandan exile over and#039threat of lifeand#039

A Rwandan exile in Belgium was recently warned by the US State Department of a threat to his life posed by “Rwandan assassins”, a senior official at the United States Congress said last week.

Gregory Simpkins, a congressional committee staff director, added that Robert Higiro, a former Rwandan army major allegedly targeted for killing, said the department subsequently helped him resettle in the US.

Commenting to The EastAfrican, Mr Simpkins said that Rwanda’s envoy to the US, Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana, refuted the claims that the Kigali government solicited the killing of Maj Higiro.

Rwanda has also repeatedly rejected allegations that it is engaged in a campaign intended to silence exiled critics of President Paul Kagame.

The US government remains concerned about human rights abuses and political intolerance, however.

“In all of our engagements with the Rwandan government and president, we have raised our concerns about human-rights violations, about reports and allegations of extra-judicial killings, about disappearances,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs told a US congressional panel earlier this year.

“They have denied their involvement in all of these cases, but we have been clear in our messaging that this will have a real deep impact on our future engagement with the Rwandans.”

Maj Higiro, who had testified to the same congressional panel in May, said that he had been offered $1 million by Kagame’s military-intelligence director, Col Dan Munyuza, to hire contract killers to assassinate two Rwandan dissidents living in South Africa.

Maj Higiro backed up that allegation with recordings of telephone conversations he had with Col Munyuza in 2011.

Rwandans critical of President Kagame’s rule have also been targeted in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Britain and Sweden as well as in Belgium and South Africa, according to a months-long investigation by a Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail.

SOURCE: The East African