Rwanda denies controversial priest entry again

Tuesday January 24 2017

Journalists wait for Thomas Nahimana at Kigali International Airport where he was supposed to arrive on November 23, 2016.  PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

Journalists wait for Thomas Nahimana at Kigali International Airport where he was supposed to arrive on November 23, 2016. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By EDMUND KAGIRE

A controversial Catholic prelate turned politician has claimed to have been denied access to a Kigali-bound flight from Brussels on Rwandan government orders.

Thomas Nahimana had been expected to arrive in Rwanda on Monday evening to declare his intentions to run for presidency in the forthcoming August elections.

Mr Nahimana, who holds a French passport, accuses the Rwandan government of frustrating his efforts to return home.

In November 2016, the prelate was blocked from a flight to Rwanda at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on the request of the Rwandan government.

But President Paul Kagame later said he should be allowed to return to Rwanda to face the law for propagating genocide ideology.

Responding to the new claim, the Rwandan Directorate of Immigration said Mr Nahimana was free to return but needed to clarify his dual citizenship status and obtain proper travel documents.

“On January 22, 2017, the Immigration officer at the Kigali International Airport alerted Brussels Airlines and other carriers, about issues in Mr Nahimana travel status which is routine procedure,” Mr Yves Butera, the Immigration spokesman said.

“Mr Nahimana had applied for a visa as a French citizen, and yet he was also in possession of an expired Rwandan passport.

“Mr Nahimana is yet to notify Immigration that he acquired dual citizenship, as provided for by Rwanda Immigration law.”

Mr Butera further said that the clergyman had previously used a single tourist visa for East Africa – which allows him entry to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda – and should therefore address the administrative and immigration regulations before he is allowed back.

Mr Nahimana is accused of being a genocide denier from comments he has made while abroad and could face several charges.

The cleric fled the country in 2005, abandoning his duties priestly duties in Cyangugu diocese, in the southwestern part of Rwanda.