Murder of Denis Ntare Semadwinga

According to various sources, Denis Semadwinga was assassinated at his home in Gisenyi (Rwanda) at 8pm last night.

Semadwinga was an influential and senior member of the Goma elite. A Tutsi from Rutshuru territory, he was Chief of Staff (directeur de cabinet) to RCD Governor Eugene Serufuli and then to Laurent Nkunda in the CNDP. Before that, he had been in charge of Mobutu’s presidential archives and had been administrator of the Centre de Commerce International du Zaire (CCIZ).

He had continued to be active in the CNDP even after Nkunda was arrested. Some say it was his activism for the CNDP that led problems between him and the Rwandan government. Numerous CNDP officials have been arrested in Rwanda this year, and Rwandan security officials have privately blamed the grenade attacks on CNDP members in cahoots with Kayumba Nyamwasa.

Semadwinga’s death is likely to exacerbate the tensions between Kigali and the Congolese Tutsi community, especially the Banyejomba and the pro-Nkunda soldiers. As much as people believe the Tutsi community is united, this would not be the first time such rifts have appeared. In the early day of the RCD rebellion, two mutinies broke out in Goma and Bukavu, led by Tutsi from North Kivu and Banyamulenge, respectively. In Goma, Congolese Tutsi commander Murekezi was shot and killed by Rwandan officers for insubordination. In Bukavu, they were able to negotiate with Cmdr Venant Bisogo (today leader of the FRF). No such luck several years later with Banyamulenge Cmdr Patrick Masunzu, who launched another mutiny.

The complaints have often been the same: that for all the sacrifices the Congolese Tutsi have made for the Rwandan government, their standing in the Congo has never been secured; indeed, their leaders have often been arrested, as was the case with Nkunda.

We will have to wait and see whether any information about Semadwinga’s death comes out. Gisenyi is a very safe place; it is highly unlikely these were simple robbers. And the coincidence with the assassination attempt against General Kayumba in South Africa is striking.