Arusha, February 4, 2002 (FH) - The pro-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had a hidden agenda during the peace process that preceded the 1994 genocide, former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu told the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. Twagiramungu is the first defence witness in the genocide trial of Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son Gerald.

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Twagiramungu said that even during the Arusha peace negotiations, RPF leader Paul Kagame had said that "power is here in the gun", and that Kagame did not want any of the positions he was offered in a broad based transitional government ("BBTG"). That made former president Juvénal Habyarimana nervous, said the witness, but Kagame refused a 1993 invitation to meet Habyarimana in Uganda for discussions. As leader of the opposition MDR party, Twagiramungu was designated Prime Minister of the BBTG which, by the time the genocide erupted in April 1994, had still not been set up. When RPF rebels took power in July that year, ending the genocide, Twagiramungu became Prime Minister of the first RPF-led government under current president Kagame. However, he fled into exile in Belgium the following year. The witness is considered a moderate Hutu, now an opponent of the current regime in Kigali. He is testifying in English. "Digging our own graves"Twagiramungu told the court how, in a climate of violence and instability, the installation of the BBTG was continually delayed. Under the August 1993 peace accord, the new government was to be sworn in on October 10th the same year, but "unfortunately there were delaying tactics on both sides", he told the court. "We were digging our own graves, that's what happened. "The witness said he thought Habyarimana wanted to stall the process because he did not have the blocking minority he needed to control the new parliament; and the delay also suited the RPF. "For the RPF, the more we delayed, the more they prepared for war and the more they knew power was going to be taken," said Twagiramungu. "The fruit was ripe. "The peace accord gave the RPF the right to keep a battalion of 600 soldiers in Kigali, but Twagiramungu said that by April 6th, 1994, when the downing of Habyarimana's 'plane sparked genocide and war, the RPF had "probably 2,000" troops in the capital. "Due to the delaying tactics, they were in Kigali for five months," he told the court, "and they were not escorting personalities, they were doing some activities such as gathering information and distributing weapons. "Twagiramungu said that in early 1994 there was a spate of political assassinations, but that "those who wanted a civil war" did not get it at that point. He said the hardline Hutu CDR used terror to stop the installation of the transition government, from which it had been excluded. According to Twagiramungu, grenades were thrown "everywhere… in public markets, bus stations and bars". "We were so accustomed to hearing explosions that when the "plane of Habyarimana was shot down, I didn't pay much attention," the former Prime Minister said. He said he felt that the government was "no longer in control" and that "a lot of events in Kigali" had become uncontrollable at that time. The former Prime Minister also blamed the international community for having failed to provide peacekeeping troops on time, under the Arusha accord. He said that by being two months late, they had given the impression that the peace agreement was "not serious". JC/FH (RW-0204e)