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Bizimungu ally, Charles Ntakirutinka
"We were not trying to disturb security"
 real 28k

Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Rwanda ex-president under arrest
Pasteur Bizimungu
Bizimungu got fed up with the government's policies
Former Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu is under house arrest after announcing the formation of a new political party.

Anyone trying to launch a new political party will be punished

Radio statement
A report from a government cabinet meeting said that ministers denounced Mr Bizimungu's initiative, as it could "cause insecurity in the country".

Mr Bizimungu's supporters said that the former president had become disillusioned with the policies of the government, now headed by his vice president Paul Kagame.

Mr Bizimungu was arrested at his home as he was about to hold a press conference with journalists to tell them about the new Democratic Party for Renewal.

'No danger'

One of Bizimungu's ex-ministers and a leading member of the new party, Charles Ntakirutinka, denied that the party was a security risk.

Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame is said to have marginalised Mr Bizimungu
"We were not trying to disturb security," he said, "we were trying to think about the problems of the country. This is our right."

The cabinet is reported to have outlawed the creation of new parties until the drawing up of a new constitution in about two years' time.

State radio said on Wednesday: "There are well known political parties in the country. Anyone trying to launch a new political party will be punished in exemplary fashion."

Mr Ntakirutinka said that given the restrictions, it will be difficult to get the new party off the ground, but it will start by looking into the government's decision.

Pasteur Bizimungu is a Hutu and when he was president was seen as an important figure in Rwanda's rebuilding process after the 1994 genocide.

Mr Bizimungu was one of those Hutus who distanced themselves from the excesses of the Hutu regime which ruled Rwanda until 1994, and whose members openly encouraged the slaughter of Tutsis and of Hutu moderates.

He was prompted to join the rebels in 1990 after his brother - a colonel in the former Hutu-dominated army - was assassinated, apparently on the orders of the ruling Hutu government.

He became president in 1994 but gradually came to feel marginalised in the government that many felt was really run by Vice-President Paul Kagame.

He resigned in March last year.

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See also:

17 Apr 00 | Africa
Kagame wins a one-horse race
23 Mar 00 | Africa
Analysis: Why Bizimungu mattered
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