Why the death of Ignace Murwanashyaka is a big blow to both the FDLR and its Affiliates?

Ignace Murwanashyaka, the leader of the notorious “Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an offshoot of the genocidal regime responsible for the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, died on 16 April 2019 in Mannheim University Clinic, Germany. 

Arrested in 17 November 2009 for his leadership role in crimes committed by the FDLR in the DRC between January 2008 and November 2009, Murwashyaka, together with his erstwhile deputy, Straton Musoni, were, on 28 September 2015, found guilty by the Stuttgart regional court in Germany of “leadership of a foreign terrorist organisation” and were sentenced to 13 and 8 years in prison, respectively.

Murwanashyaka’s death represents a big blow not only to the FDLR, but equally to President Museveni, who, after previous discreet efforts to support various subversive groups (e.g. FRD, FDLR, RNC) in the last two decades, is seeking to unite them, especially the FDLR and RNC, to violently overthrow an elected government in Rwanda. 

WHO IS IGNACE MURWANASHYAKA?

Ignace Murwanashya was born on 14 May 1963 in Munyegera/Mugusa, in the current District of Gisagara, Southern Province.

He studied at Munyegera and Muyira Primary Schools; secondary school at GSO Butare; University of Kinshasa where he graduated in Economics. In 1989, he proceeded to University of Bonn, Germany, where he obtained a PhD in Economics in 1998.

Despite his successful education, Murwanashyaka was a faithful servant of a genocidal regime to whom he devoted most of his life, through leading and dedicating his time, knowledge and energy to its offshoots, namely: Akagera-Rhein, RDR and, most importantly, the FDLR. 

While studying in Bonn, Murwanashyaka was an active member of the MRND branch in Germany and one of the key leaders of subsequent organizations created to sanitize and eventually restore the genocidal regime.

He was among the founding members and leader of AKAGERA-Rhein, an offspring of MRND/CDR, created in the midst of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi (on 23 April 1994) in Bonn, to sanitize and advocate for the genocidal regime in the host country. 

But following the 1994 genocide, the defeated genocidal government had lost international credibility it badly needed to fight and eventually overthrow the unity government led by the RPF victorious forces that stopped the 1994 genocide.

To clean the image heavily tainted by the genocide, it was important for leaders of the defeated genocidal regime to create new organizations that shall be headed by new/young political figures with no direct involvement in the 1994 genocide but close to the genocidal regime, and preferably living in the West and this is how Ignace Murwanashyaka and Victoire Ingabire, subsequently became leaders of RDR branches in Germany and The Netherlands respectively. 

While Ingabire would later raise the ranks to become the overall chairperson of the RDR, that mutated, in October 2006, into FDU-Inkingi, Murwanashyaka parted ways with RDR to join and subsequently lead the FDLR (an offspring of RDR sprinter group, PALIR) from 2001 until his demise. 

The group was subsequently put under UN sanctions and designated by the German judiciary as a terrorist organization. It is equally considered as a negative force by regional and international organizations including the AU and UN.

Neither the FDLR atrocities, UN sanctions against the group and its leaders (since 2003), nor judicial pursuits against its leaders could deter Murwanashyaka’s determination to be the devil’s public face and advocate. 

It’s worth mentioning that his deputy, Straton Musoni threw in the towel after being convicted by the German court, while the group split into various factions. Similarly, numerous FDLR fighters have defected and returned back to their country, making the group weaker and weaker.

Yet, despite being in prison for nearly a decade, Murwanashyaka remained loyal to the FDLR and vice-versa. He was seemingly too indispensable to the group that it re-elected him as its President on 29 November 2014 for a five-year term while in prison.  Considering previous infighting with the group, the election/selection of a new FDLR top leader will not be an easy ride and has the potential to provoke further divisions within the group.

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