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Rusesabagina Arrives In Qatar As Co-Accused Speak Out

by Edmund Kagire
10:44 am

Rusesabagina’s co-accused in Mutobo. Photo/Courtesy/Igihe.com.

Paul Rusesabagina arrived in Doha, after departing Rwanda on Monday morning, as part of a deal brokered by Qatar to have the 68-year old released from prison through a presidential decree to return to the US where he is resident.

Rusesabagina and 19 of his co-accused, who were all members the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which he founded, benefited from a presidential pardon on Friday, which commuted the various sentences they had been handed and were released immediately.

The departure of Rusesabagina on Monday was confirmed by the Office of the Rwandan Government Spokesperson while John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council,  also confirmed that Rusesabagina was enroute to the US.

“I can confirm that Paul Rusesabagina has left Rwanda and is currently in Doha. He will soon be making his way back to the United States,” Kirby said at a news conference on Monday.

Unlike Rusesabagina who left the country after spending a few days at the residence of the Ambassador of Qatar to Rwanda, his co-accused were taken to the Northern Province-based demobilisation centre where they would be rehabilitated and reintegrated in society.

Rusesabagina left quietly on Monday morning after receiving clearance from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, allowing him to travel to Doha and later USA where he is resident.

In this first photo shared on social media, Rusesabagina is photographed with the Qatari diplomat.

Officials in Qatar confirmed that Rusesabagina will rest and undergo medical checks before heading to the US on Wednesday.

His co-accused arrived in Mutobo on Sunday and on Monday Valerie Nyirahabineza, the head of the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Program (RDRP) said that the convicts who sentences were commuted along with Rusesabagina, will be taken through several courses that reintegrated them back in society.

“After teaching them national values and rehabilitating them, we give them a small budget to go and start off life again but we have to make sure that they don’t go back to make the same mistakes,”

“The period will depend on how they will reform but we hope it will be a short time because they understand the gesture they got from the President of the Republic,” Nyirahabineza said.

Herman Nsengimana, the former spokesperson of FLN, who had been sentenced on terrorism-related charges, said that they were elated by the news of the presidential pardon. His predecissor Callixte ‘Sankara’ Nsabimana was not immediately transferred to Mutobo.

“We were listening to the 7pm news when we heard that the President of the Republic had granted us clemency. It was a great feeling. We are happy to be given a second chance and we are ready to serve the country,” Nsengimana said.

Jean Chrétien Ndagijimana, 26, the son of the former leader of FDLR, Wilson Irategeka, welcomed the presidential pardon, stating that he never had an opportunity to live in his own country, having been born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where his father led the genocidal force.

“I wanted to join university by father said that I need to join the military first and join efforts to fight the government in Rwanda. That is how I joined FLN. It was never my choice,” Ndagijimana, urging those still looking to wage war on Rwanda to think twice and return home.

Ndagijimana, who was arrested in Goma, DRC, where he had gone to withdraw money which his father regularly received from abroad to finance military activities. He was about to complete his three year sentence.

“I don’t know where I will go from here but I am ready to start a new life in my own country, which is what is more important,” Ndagijimana said, reiterating his will to work for his motherland.

Qatar played a crucial role in the process to negotiate the release Rusesabagina, who wrote to President Paul Kagame in October 2022, seeking for a pardon and regretting his actions as the leader of FLN/MRCD, which inflicted pain on Rwandans, promising to abandon political activities if released.

Dr. Majed Al Ansari, Advisor to the Prime Minister and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier confirmed that Rusesabagina would reunite with his family in Qatar, reiterating his country’s role in the process.

“This issue was discussed during meetings that brought together Qatari and Rwandan officials at the highest levels in the context of bridging views,”

“The State of Qatar has been able to play the role of a neutral mediator in many files and issues, which has made it a reliable international partner in resolving disputes through peaceful and diplomatic means and bringing the views of the various parties closer together,” Al Ansari said.

He said that Qatar’s facilitation role reflected the mutual trust and strong relations between the State of Qatar and partners in Rwanda and the United States.

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