The chairman of Rwanda’s opposition Democratic Green Party has called on President Paul Kagame’s government to begin a thorough investigation into the murder of the vice president of his party.
Frank Habineza said, despite repeated appeals to the government, the minister of interior has refused to give the opposition leaders protection after they received several threats ahead of the upcoming presidential election scheduled for August 9.
“It is very sad and shocking that we heard that our vice president was murdered, his head was almost cut off, and he was also kind of stabbed in the chest. We would like now to call upon the Rwandan government and the national police to carry out [a] thorough investigation and let us know who is behind this killing and bring to justice his murderers,” he said.
The opposition party reported its vice president, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, missing a day before he was found dead near his abandoned car.
Rwanda’s police said they have launched an investigation into Rwisereka’s death despite not fully knowing the motive behind the opposition leader’s death, although they said they suspect robbery.
Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga was quoted as saying Rwisereka’s “body was found this [Wednesday] morning three kilometers [about two miles] from where his car was found, along with a large knife which may have been used in the killing. It was a kind of machete.”
But, opposition leader Habineza said the police have so far given contradictory reports.
“We have been getting conflicting reports so we haven’t gotten a clear message from the police. But, they are still carrying out investigations. There are some people who say it was robbery, but we understand that it was not robbery because yesterday [Tuesday] his car, which was push[ed] into the wetland, the police found out that his house keys were there inside the car,” Habineza said.
He dismissed allegations that Rwisereka was fleeing Rwandan authorities into neighboring Burundi saying the opposition leader’s passport was found in his bedroom.
Observers say the opposition leader’s death could heighten tensions ahead of the presidential vote.
Several human rights organizations have accused President Kagame’s government of strongly repressing dissenting views ahead of the upcoming election, a charge the government denies.
Rwandan government officials were not immediately available for comments despite repeated attempts.