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Today in history: RPA invades Rwanda

By Admin

Added 1st October 2019 02:26 AM

In 1979, Rwigyema, who later led RPA, joined the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), which together with Tanzanian armed forces captured Kampala in April 1979 and sent Idi Amin to exile.

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In 1979, Rwigyema, who later led RPA, joined the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), which together with Tanzanian armed forces captured Kampala in April 1979 and sent Idi Amin to exile.

On October 1, 1990, a group of Rwanda Patriotic Army invaded Rwanda from the southwestern part of Uganda, about 40 miles southwest of Mbarara.

The group was led by Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigyema, who had been an assistant minister of defence in Uganda and a member of Parliament.

  RPF rebels singing kijesi ya inkontayi at a parade in 1990


Who is Fred Rwigyema?
Fred Gisa Rwigyema was born on April 10, 1957, in Gitarama, in the south of Rwanda. He and his family fled to Uganda in 1960 and settled in a refugee camp in Nshungerezi, Isingiro district following the Hutu Revolution of 1959 and the removal of King Kigeri V.

After finishing high school in 1976, he went to Tanzania and joined the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), a rebel group headed by Yoweri Museveni, the brother of his friend Salim Saleh. 

  Lt. Col. Adam Wasswa, Col. Alexis Kanyarengwe, Lt. Patrick Nyagamba, Capt. Musita, Hassan Twahirwa 


Later that year, he traveled to Mozambique and joined the FRELIMO rebels who were fighting for the liberation of Mozambique from Portugal's colonial power.

In 1979, he joined the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), which together with Tanzanian armed forces captured Kampala in April 1979 and sent Idi Amin to exile.

  RPF rebels in Nyagatare display a jeep captured from the Rwandese army troops

He later joined Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA), which fought a guerrilla war against the government of Milton Obote. It was here that Rwigyema first fought alongside several future RPF leaders, including Paul Kagame.

 

After the NRA captured state power in 1986, Rwigyema became the deputy Minister of Defence. He was regularly at the front line in northern Uganda during the new government's offensives against remnants of the ousted regime.

Rwigyema was given the rank of Major General on February 6, 1988, when NRA regularised the ranks. his army number was RO015, just ahead of Gen. Salim Saleh at RO016 and Gen. Elly Tumwine at RO023 and just behind Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire at RO014.

 Roadside press conference with Lt. Col. Charles Kaboyo at Nyarutovu near Ruhengeri

As fate would have it, the guest of honour at the pipping ceremony was Maj. Gen. Juvenal Habyarimana, the then president of Rwanda.

On 1 October 1990, Rwigyema led a splinter group of 10,000 NRA troops in an invasion of northern Rwanda.

Sources indicate that he chose this day because it would be disguised as preparations for independence days preparations on 9 October.

 
On the second day of the struggle, Rwigyema was shot in the head and died at Nyabwenshogozi Hill. Rwigyema is considered one of Rwanda's national heroes. His body was buried at the Heroes Cemetery in Kigali.

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