NAIROBI — A former senior aide to Rwandan President Paul Kagame has accused him of ordering the shooting down of the plane carrying former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana in April 1994.
The crash of Habyarimana's plane, in which Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was also killed, triggered the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, were killed.
Kagame has always maintained that the plane was shot down by Hutu extremists, while his opponents have often accused him of being behind the crash.
"The truth must now be told. Paul Kagame, then overall commander of the Rwandese Patriotic Army, the armed wing of the Rwandese Patriotic Front, was personally responsible for the shooting down of the plane," Theogene Rudasingwa said on his Facebook page.
Rudasingwa, who is in exile in the United States, confirmed to AFP that he had indeed made that accusation.
"In July 1994, Paul Kagame himself, with characteristic callousness and much glee, told me that he was responsible for shooting down the plane. Despite public denials, the fact of Kagame?s culpability in this crime is also a public 'secret' within RPF and RPF circles," Rudasingwa said.
The former chief of staff to Kagame and former Rwandan ambassador to the United States said he admitted he had "enthusiastically sold this deceptive story line, especially to foreigners who by and large came to believe it, even when I knew that Kagame was the culprit in this crime."
"By killing President Habyarimana, Paul Kagame produced a wild card in an already fragile ceasefire and dangerous situation. This created a powerful trigger, escalating to a tipping point towards resumption of the civil war, genocide and the region-wide destabilisation that has devastated the Great Lakes region ever since."
Rudasingwa said Kagame should "immediately be brought to account for this crime and its consequences."
Rudasingwa, together with other former regime heavyweights now in exile, last year founded the Rwanda National Congress, an opposition party that has been calling on Kagame to leave power.
Other Rwandan opposition parties have accused Kagame of being behind the shooting down of the plane, but their accounts have often lacked credibility.
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