Arusha, 18 May 2009 (FH) - At the first day of his testimony before of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), a former leader of the former presidential party, Edouard Karemera, treated his former opponents as "opportunists" and accused them of having contributed to the destruction of the country by inciting civil disobedience.

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Tried for genocide before the United Nations Tribunal, the former Vice-President of National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) has pleaded not guilty.

Karemera, initially reproached the former opposition parties of having, in June 1992 in Brussels, signed "an opportunistic alliance" with the former rebellion of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, currently in power) in order to overthrow the regime of President Juvenal Habyarimana.

He affirmed that shortly after this meeting with the "aggressor of Rwanda", the MRND base had requested the dissolution of the government coalition then led by the Prime Minister, Dismas Nsengiyaremye, who came from the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), the main opposition party at the time. "President Habyarimana hesitated and it was fatal to us", stated the former MRND second-in-command.

Karemera also accused the opposition forces of having resorted to "the disastrous policy of civil disobedience which extended to the whole country". "The MDR and its allies recruited by force", he said, denouncing once again "this disastrous policy preached by Prime Minister Dismas Nsengiyaremye". This strategy of civil disobedience notably resulted in the destruction of certain achievements, said Karemera, who immediately burst into tears. "Your Honour, I am sorry, please understand my emotion, I took part in the development of this country but I had to also witness its destruction", he added after wiping away his tears with a handkerchief.

Recipient of a law degree which he obtained in 1976 from the Catholic University of Leuven, in Belgium, Karemera, a native of the former prefecture of Kibuye (western Rwanda), was a minister, a deputy, a member of the central committee of the MRND at time when it gathered all Rwandans "from their birth".

 In 1990, he was named president of the "national commission on association" (commission nationale de synthèse) created by President Habyarimana, with a mandate of finding out if Rwandans were open to a multi-party system.

 In June 1991, he was nominated national secretary of the "new MRND" before being elected its first vice-president in April 1993. "I am no longer vice-president, the party no longer exists, the RPF dissolved it", he said with a light joke.

 In May 1994, in the middle of the genocide, he was named to the head of the ministry of the interior, a position which he occupied until his departure from Rwanda, "on 16 July 1994, at around 11 a.m." for an exile which initially led him to the former Zaire (now DRC), then to Kenya, Gabon and finally to Togo, where he was arrested on 5 June 1998.

 His testimony is expected to last approximately two weeks.

 Karemera is the first to call his witnesses in the case where he is tried alongside the former president and national secretary of the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nzirorera, respectively.


© Hirondelle News Agency