RPF's PM-designate returns to Rwanda

THE man designated by the rebel Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) to be the next prime minister of Rwanda returned home yesterday after months of exile.

But it was a homecoming set against the background of a continuing rebel offensive in the north-western corner of the country that was driving hundreds of thousands of frightened Hutu civilians across the Zairean frontier, overwhelming international relief organisations and threatening a massive humanitarian disaster.

Faustin Twagiramungu, a Hutu moderate named by the mainly Tutsi RPF to head a national unity government, said upon his arrival on a UN transport plane at Kigali airport that his priority was to reassure those fleeing the rebel advance.

'We can only hope the success of the RPF will help Rwanda and that the Rwandan people will be able to forget their miseries,' he said.

But as of yesterday, it appeared that the RPF was the cause of misery for as many as 500,000 Hutus fleeing the rebel drive on Gisenyi, the seat of the rump Hutu extremist government and its last stronghold in the country.

RPF sources said its forces had taken the garrison town of Ruhengeri and were moving towards Gisenyi, 15 miles west. The sources claim the RPF is now 10 miles from Gisenyi and there were reports that the outskirts were in range of rebel guns. Hutu government officials in Gisenyi said the Rwandan army had no hope of winning the battle. A French soldier in Goma, Zaire, said the RPF appeared determined to take Gisenyi to drive out the remnants of the government 'and by implication they do not care what this causes to thousands of people'.

The stream of Hutu civilians, described by some aid agencies as a 'human tidal wave', is being spurred by fear of RPF retribution for the thousands of people killed by extremist Hutu militias after the 6 April death of Rwanda's president, Juvenal Habyarimana, in a suspicious plane crash. If the offensive continues, aid agencies warn that eastern Zaire will be swamped with as many as 1 million refugees in days.

Some officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimated that refugees were crossing into Zaire at the rate of 10,000 people an hour. 'The situation is bad. It is a humanitarian catastrophe,' said Johanni Grombach, an ICRC delegate in Goma.

The RPF has promised to call a ceasefire once Mr Twagiramungu names a cabinet and the leaders of the extremist Hutu government are apprehended for war crimes. He is expected to name a government by tomorrow.

'I have come here to assume my responsibility. It is my duty to consult partners to set up a transitional broad- based government,' said the Prime Minister-designate.

The UN envoy, Shahayar Kahn, said that Mr Twagiramungu and he agreed that the first thing to do was to establish a ceasefire. 'Things are not good. But the situation is by no means desperate. The first thing that needs to be done is to give the people fleeing reassurance, to let them know . . . they are not going to be persecuted.'

NEW YORK - The UN Security Council, faced with dire warnings from France of another humanitarian catastrophe, yesterday demanded an immediate ceasefire in Rwanda and called on the international community to supply relief for refugees fleeing rebel troops, Reuter reports.

(Photograph omitted)

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
arts + entsJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Cover Supervisor

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education have cover su...

Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Teaching Assistants/LSAAre you a T...

Female PE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Female PE Teacher Required - Hum...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker