In a press conference last week, Kagame accused Lt.
Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former ambassador to
No journalists were named, but Charles Kabonero and Jean Bosco Gasasira,
founders of two private vernacular weeklies, knew that the president’s message was
aimed at them. Both papers had conducted interviews with Karegyeya. For his
part, Kabonero makes no apologies. "I believe that Kagame is educated
enough to know that, as a journalist, if I had a chance to meet [Osama] bin
Laden I would not hesitate to do it [in order to] to get news. It’s the job.
So, yes, I met Karegyeya for journalism-related purposes,” he told CPJ.
Nyamwasa and Karegyeya have left
This is not the first time the Rwandan government has accused independent
journalists of involvement in a bomb attack. The pro-government bimonthly
Rwanda Focus, claimed in April
2006 that Kabonero conspired with a military officer to launch a wave of
Godwin Agaba, a Rwandan correspondent for the Ugandan online publication 256 News, went into hiding after he heard Kagame’s televised remarks. The reporter, who has written about Nyamwasa, was warned to stop writing about the general, a vocal critic to the president, according to CPJ sources.
In fact, any interviews with critics of the current regime seem to raise eyebrows with the president. During the same press conference last week, Kagame singled out the Nairobi-based regional weekly, The East African, which he described as “insulting” and “offensive,” for interviewing opposition candidate Victoire Ingabire, according to the Kenya-based Media Institute.
One thing is clear: Kagame’s televised warnings will help silence critics prior to the August presidential election. With pro-government media outlets outweighing the country’s beleaguered private press, the chances of balanced election coverage are now slimmer than ever.