Rwanda election: Calls mount for independent autopsy of slain opposition leader
Human Rights Watch is now calling for an independent autopsy of Democratic Green Party vice chairman Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, who was found dead earlier this month amid a crackdown on dissent in the run-up to the Aug. 9 Rwanda election.
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Are the killings politically motivated?
That possibility has United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concerned enough that he has urged Mr. Kagame's government to conduct a full investigation into the latest death: that of Democratic Green Party vice chairman Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, who was found last week nearly decapitated.
"This is the second killing of an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government in less than a month," said HRW boss Kenneth Roth, referring also to Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist who was shot dead outside his home in June. "An independent autopsy and inquiry are necessary to determine what happened to Rwisereka."
At first, authorities said he was the victim of a robbery, according to HRW, which said its own investigation revealed that the victim did not have any valuables on him at the time of the attack. Then, says HRW, police later said he was killed in a financial dispute.
"A thorough independent investigation would confirm or dispel these different explanations," Mr. Roth said in a statement.
Crackdown on dissent ahead of the vote
Rwisereka was a longtime member of Kagame's Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), but broke ranks last year to start the Democratic Green Party with other disaffected RPF members. His killing comes amid a crackdown on the opposition and sporadic acts of violence – including mysterious grenade attacks – in recent months. Rwanda specialists say a power struggle for control of the RPF is under way and that Kagame is seeking to quash the minirebellion within his ranks.
Rwisereka explained his rationale for splitting with Kagame to the BBC in October 2009.
"It is time for people to act to bring about changes, as the RPF is incapable of having an internal revolution. So it has to accept that others come to its aid," he said. "A party that does not renew itself, from the point of view of its ideas, ends up falling. All the parties you have known which have worked with dictatorship, where are they now? "