Rwandan Sgt Major Kabera flees to Uganda

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By Daily Monitor

A Rwandan soldier and musician has fled to Uganda, claiming his life and family are in danger after falling out with the Kigali government.

Sgt Maj Robert Kabera said he is seeking protection because he is being persecuted at home. 

“I am in Uganda seeking refuge from those who are after my life. My country does not want anyone to interact with the Rwigyema family to whom I am related,” he told Daily Monitor.

Sgt Maj Kabera has been an instructor and a member of the military band in the Rwandan army. He said he crossed to Uganda on November 19.

Rwandan State-owned newspaper The New Times on Tuesday published an online story saying, Sgt Maj Kabera was being investigated by the Rwandan Defence Forces Military Prosecution Department for allegedly defiling a 15-year-old family member on November 21.

In the interview with Daily Monitor, Sgt Maj Kabera denied the allegations and claimed they are part of the Rwandan government propaganda against opponents.

Sgt Maj Kabera said he could not have committed the alleged crime on November 21 when he had already crossed into Uganda on November 19.

“They (Rwandan government) have levelled many incoherent cases against me,” he said.  He said he fled to Uganda with his wife, leaving behind three children, including a seven-month-old baby.

“Some of the officers in intelligence that I have trained over the time intimated that I was being targeted. I got another warning via a phone call and on November 18, I fled. We sent our two eldest children to live with our friends because we left in a hurry and only came with the baby.

“But when we reached Kajitumba [border], we couldn’t cross with the baby. The water was a lot and we sent it back through a volunteer. We were worried we could easily lose the baby in water. I cannot even call to find out how they are doing because that will expose them,” Mr Kabera claimed. 

Background

He said his trouble with the Rwandan army stemmed from his relationship with the late local musician Mihigo Kizito who was found dead in a police cell in Rwanda at the beginning of the year. 

Sgt Maj Kabera also said his trouble is partly due to his relationship with the family of the late Fred Rwigema, the first commander of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, who was killed in October 1990, the first month into the RPF invasion of Rwanda.

Sgt Maj Kabera claimed the government suspects him of knowing secrets about the late Mihigo.

Gospel singer Mihigo was found dead in a Rwandan police cell in February. His suspicious death caused worldwide criticism against the Kigali government.

In 2014, the singer was convicted of conspiracy to harm President Paul Kagame but was pardoned in 2018. He was rearrested last year for allegedly trying to flee the country. 

“They accuse me of harbouring secrets from the late Kizito and the Rwigyema family. I was questioned about his secrets. My phones were being tracked but I cannot stop engaging with the Rwigyema family. My engagement with them does not mean I am plotting against the government,” Mr Kabera said.

He appealed to the Uganda government and international agencies for protection.

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