Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has given the go ahead for a commission of experts to be constituted to investigate the circumstances that led to the plane crash which killed former President Juvenal Habyarimana and those accompanying him. Observers welcomed the government’s decision, but opponents questioned the timing saying it is too little too late because, they claim vital evidence might have already been lost. It is believed the plane crash led to the country’s genocide that saw scores of Tutsi’s and moderate Hutus killed.
Tharcisse Karugarama is Rwanda’s justice minister. He said cabinet has issued a statutory instrument to set up a commission of inquiry into the death of the former president.
“What happened is that cabinet did put in place a statutory instrument setting up a committee of experts to probe and investigate the crash of the Falcon 50 aircraft that fell at the Kanombe Airport on the 9th of April 1994. And the plane was carrying the former president of Rwanda, President Habyarimana and those who were accompanying him…so the probe is going to investigate the circumstances of the crash of that aircraft,” he said.
Karugarama admitted many that questions are being asked concerning the timing of the commission’s establishment.
“That is a very interesting question I think which is being asked by a number of people. I think the response is quite clear namely that so far, Rwanda has asked either the International Civil Aviation Authority or the International Transport Authority to do some investigation, but they didn’t… all the people that have expertise and the knowledge did not. Rwanda feels it is high time because of questions that has been asked here and there,” he pointed out.
He said the investigation was not the priority of the Kagame government, as the country was just coming out of genocide.
“You can not say it has been a long time given this country’s devastating effect of genocide. There were so many priorities, but that one did not kick as priority number one of this government. It was important enough to investigate it, but it was not the priority of priorities,” Karugarama noted.
Karugarama said President Paul Kagame’s government came under increasing pressure as soon as it came to power.
“This government in 1994 came under numerous different types of pressures. But the fact that this investigation is taking place cannot be the result of any one concerted pressure from any source. But you can say there is pressure why not? I think people are pressurizing, but the real thing is not based on the pressure. The decision is based on the realization that so far, nobody has done the investigation and that perhaps the time is now and right to do the investigation,” he said.