The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Dr Vincent Biruta says that Rwanda’s relations with Zambia remain intact despite recent utterances in court by terror suspect Callixte Nsabimana, who alleged that the terrorist organisation he was a spokesman for was supported by Zambian President Edgar Lungu.
The claims by Nsabimana, who faces up to 16 charges, that President Lungu financially supported the ‘National Liberation Forces (FLN)’, an armed terrorist organisation founded by the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a political organisation founded by Paul Rusesabagina, among other members, shocked many.
On July 13, while appearing in the High Court Special Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes in Nyanza District, Nsabimana claimed that FLN received $150, 000 from Lungu to support their cause to fight the Government of Rwanda in 2017.
The claims rattled Zambia, with the President Office issuing a statement strongly condemning the allegations and unequivocally stated that they are false.
On July 16, President Lungu dispatched his country’s Foreign Minister Joe Malanji to Kigali to meet President Kagame over the matter, after the opposition in the Southern African country turned on the heat on his government to explain more.
Speaking about the issue for the first time on Wednesday, Minister Biruta said that the matter has been discussed extensively with Zambia in view of ascertaining the authenticity of the claims but Rwanda also heard about it for the first time when Nsabimana went to court.
“We heard it as everyone heard it in court. He said what he said but in the meantime the President of Zambia sent the Minister of Foreign Affairs as special envoy, to deliver a message to the President of the Republic of Rwanda,”
“What we can say is that whatever was said was said in court and the person who said it is there. We have actually given Zambia a greenlight to send people to discuss with him to understand the source of these allegation and follow up,” Minister Biruta said.
“Certainly, there is a need to understand better where these claims came from. On our side we only heard this in court and it has not affected our relations with Zambia. We will continue to work together to find out the source of these claims,” he expounded.
However, Dr Biruta said that these groups which are intent on destabilizing Rwanda operate in many places around the continent and the world, including some people in Zambia who they work with.
“It is not Zambia alone -they operate in Uganda as we said earlier and many other places. When such allegations come up in court, then there is a need to investigate more. These people are there, the Government of Zambia is aware of them,”
“We will continue to work with them to see how these activities can be stopped. If there are any people who should be prosecuted, then it should be done but we will continue to work with Zambian authorities to ascertain these claims,”
Nsabimana faces 16 counts, including terrorism, treason, forming of an illegal armed group, engaging in acts of terrorism for political gain, incitement to commit terrorism, and murder among other charges.
He is also charged with kidnapping, spreading false information or propaganda aimed at undermining the Rwandan government abroad, denying genocide, armed robbery, arson, engaging with foreign nations with a view to waging war, and forgery, among others.