Arusha, November 21st, 2002 (FH)- Anatole Nsengiyumva, a former Rwanda senior military officer and a genocide suspect wrote a letter in 1990 advising the former president Juvenal Habyarimana to accept multiparty democracy, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda heard on Thursday from the accused’s defence counsel. Defence attorney Gersom Ottachi Bw'Omwana of Kenya produced the letter during the cross-examination of American historian and human rights activist Alison Des Forges, an expert witness in the so-called 'military trial'.

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Des Forges has been on the witness box since Monday November 18th, when the trial resumed. The military trial groups four former military officers : Théoneste Bagosora a former advisor at the Rwandan defence ministry (chef de cabinet), Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, Major Aloys Ntabakuze and General Kabiligi. In the letter, the former military officer told the president that the it was inevitable for Rwanda to convert into multiparty system because there was a wind of change sweeping across Africa. He cited countries including Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya adding that there was no way Rwanda could be left behind. Des Forges, a Senior Advisor (Africa Division) for the Human Rights Watch disagreed with Bw'Omwana's argument that Nsengiyumva was a courageous man for advising the president on multiparty in the country. She said the suspect was not sincere in what he said because at the same time he informed the former president of criticism on him from other quarters. " It was a complicated presentation of criticism which appeared to be praise," said Des Forges. She said Nsengiyumva was part of the ruling elite and owed his power to a circle of military officers because he had served for close to twenty years. The witness said the political parties in Rwanda did not create conflicts as alleged by Bw'Omwana but those in power often attempted to use the pretext that creation of more parties would cause divisions so that they could continue holding power. " The political situation in Rwanda worsened the divisions because of greedy politicians who wanted to stay in power or acquire power," Des Forges Said. She described President Habyarimana as someone extremely proud of his leadership position and extremely jealous of anyone who was a threat to hispre-eminence. " The president didn't want anyone to rival him," the witness said. The witness continues with her testimony on Friday. The trial is before ICTR's Trial Chamber Three composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St. Kitts and Nevis, (presiding) Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia and Andresia Vaz of Senegal. PJ/CE/FH (ML-1121e)