Two officers, two sides of the military coin

04 October 2004 by our correspondent

After the 1994 Rwandan genocide, few people would have believed that two officers with such contrasting profiles would find themselves in a joint billing at the Arusha court. Yet since September 20, and accompanied by two other high-level officers from the ex-Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), Generals Augustin Ndindiliyimana and Augustin Bizimungu have appeared side by side before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). 

The first, Ndindiliyimana, was once one of the most well-known of Rwandan officers. A former government minister, he was the head of the gendarmerie from 1992, and the highest-ranking officer in 1994. A Southerner, he was considered a political moderate at the time. It is true that he was not one of the ten courageous FAR officers who on 12 April 1994 condemned the massacres and called for a return to the Arusha peace agreement. Nevertheless, as writes General Dallaire, commander of the UN troops in Rwanda at the time, “I wondered why Ndindiliyimana had not signed it, but he told me the next day that he had been held up in Butare while helping some Tutsis to escape and couldn’t get back in time.”

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