Exiled Rwandan priest declares alternative Cabinet

Monday February 27 2017

Rwanda's jailed opposition figure, Victoire Ingabire [right] leaving the Supreme Court in Kigali. She had been named a Cabinet minister in Thomas Nahimana's self-declared government. PHOTO | FILE

Exiled Catholic church prelate-turned-opposition politician Thomas Nahimana’s political credentials were put to the test after some members of the “exiled alternative government” he formed pulled out.

Mr Nahimana, who has been trying to return to Rwanda to supposedly take part in the August presidential polls announced a government consisting of members of different exiled opposition groups, saying that the current regime had lost all “legitimacy and legality.” He said that his alternative government was ready to take over.

“The people of Rwanda need a way of overcoming fear,” Mr Nahimana announced, naming himself as president and several other exiled individuals as part of his Cabinet.

He named the detained Rwanda politician, Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire who is currently serving a 15-year sentence as the Minister for Culture, Family and Women’s Welfare. But hours after the February 20 announcement, Ms Ingabire’s party Union Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi) said it was not part of the prelate's “government.”

“The Party FDU-Inkingi would like to make it clear to the public that the suggestion that the FDU-Inkingi’s president, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza could be a member of the auto-proclaimed government in exile led by Thomas Nahimana is null and void in as far as the party is concerned,” the party’s interim head Boniface Twagirimana said in a statement.

The Cabinet also includes the opposition politician Déogratias Mushayidi as Minister of Justice. Mr Mushayidi was sentenced to life in 2010, on charges of threatening state security and treason.


Kigali is yet to react to Mr Nahimana’s pronouncement.

The prelate has twice attempted to return to Rwanda but failed. On the first instance in November 2016, he was blocked by Kenyan authorities at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on the request of the Rwandan Immigration Directorate. In January, he was again barred from boarding a Kigali-bound flight on the orders of the Rwandan immigration body over his dual citizenship status.

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