Pierre-Célestin Rwigema

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Pierre-Célestin Rwigema
7th Prime Minister of Rwanda
In office
August 31, 1995 – March 8, 2000
President Pasteur Bizimungu
Deputy Bernard Makuza
Preceded by Faustin Twagiramungu
Succeeded by Bernard Makuza
Personal details
Born (1953-07-27) July 27, 1953 (age 61)
Political party Independent

Pierre-Célestin Rwigema (born 27 July 1953) is a Rwandan politician previously associated with the moderate faction of the MDR party.[1] He was Prime Minister of Rwanda from 1995–2000 and Education Minister from 1994-1995. When he was sworn in as Prime Minister he pledged to reunite his then ethnically torn country.[2]

In 2001, he was accused of alleged involvement in the Rwandan Genocide and had an arrest warrant issued for him by the Rwandan government. These charges were brought against him after his resignation as Prime Minister, when he fled to the United States to seek political asylum. At the time of the accusation, he was studying towards a Master's degree in Business Administration at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, United States.[3] The political climate in Rwanda was volatile at the time. The speaker of the house, Joseph Sabarenzi, resigned and fled. There was allegations of a royalist faction working to undermine the RPF government, and restore the Tutsi monarchy.[4] It has been reported that these charges against him may have been politically motivated.[5]

According to Joseph Sebarenzi, a Tutsi and former speaker of the national assembly from 1997 to 2000, in his newly published memoir "God Sleeps in Rwanda", he says that Rwigema was innocent. As quoted in Sebarenzi's memoir: "Regularly I would hear from friends or on the radio that someone else in Rwanda was being targeted. There was Pierre Celestin Rwigema, the prime minister. He was forced to resign. While I was speaker, we had investigated him for mismanagement and embezzlement. The RPF wanted him out and hoped we would censure him. But our investigation could not prove that he had done anything wrong, so we cleared him. I knew that the RPF would not let that stand. So when I heard that Rwigema had resigned, I was not surprised. He eventually fled to the United States. The government of Rwanda told the U.S. government that he was involved in the genocide and asked that he be arrested. But an immigration judge cleared him".[6] He was eventually proven innocent and granted political asylum by the United States immigration court in Detroit.

In October 2011, Rwanda's prosecutor general, Martin Ngoga reported to the media that the judicial process in Rwanda also found no evidence indicting Rwigema in involvement with genocide and therefore his case was suspended.[7] Mr Rwigema returned to Rwanda after 11 years in exile, stating that he was returning freely,[8] and soon held a press conference where he revealed that his primary motivation to return home was to participate in the ongoing development of the country.[9]

In early May 2012, Mr Rwigema was one of 8 candidates elected by the Rwandan parliament among 18 candidates to represent Rwanda in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).[10] He vowed to advocate for effective implementation of the EAC common market and customs union protocols, and the fast-tracking of the negotiations on monetary union and the realization of a political federation.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/670985.stm
  2. ^ A Political Outsider Is Sworn In As Prime Minister of Rwanda
  3. ^ Graduate student accused of genocide BG News, November 19, 2001
  4. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/670985.stm
  5. ^ [1] Afroamerica network
  6. ^ [2] God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation
  7. ^ [3] Former Rwandan Prime Minister Returns
  8. ^ [4] PC Rwigema: My return was not influenced by anyone
  9. ^ [5] Anyone would wish to be part of the new Rwanda – Rwigema
  10. ^ [6] Ex-premier Rwigema fronted for EALA seat
  11. ^ [7] Ex-premier Rwigema fronted for EALA seat
Preceded by
Faustin Twagiramungu
Prime Minister of Rwanda
1995 – 2000
Succeeded by
Bernard Makuza