Minister Kabarebe speaks to The New Times on June 23. He says the swiftness and the charisma of the soldiers account for the success of the RPA during those risky operations. / John Mbanda
On October 1, 1990, a few young men and women launched the liberation struggle through Kagitumba near the Ugandan border, a war that would ultimately change Rwanda forever. The Rwanda Patriotic Army opted for the armed struggle as a last resort after the Juvenal Habyarimana government rejected repeated attempts by the former's political wing, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPA), to have Rwandan exiles who had fled the country during earlier ethnic killing episodes return home peacefully and to eliminate institutionalised injustice and discrimination back home. But shortly after the launch of the struggle, the RPA suffered devastating setbacks, including the shocking death of their leader, Maj. Gen. Fred Rwigema, the charismatic and battle-hardened youthful commander who died on the second day of the attack. Rwigema's childhood friend Paul Kagame, then a Major, would later abandon his military studies at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, US, and went to the bush to lead the struggle.