LONDON (Reuters) - A Rwandan exile in London said on Friday he had been warned by police that he was at risk of being assassinated by the Rwandan government.
Rene Mugenzi, 35, who heads a social policy thinktank in London, told Reuters the police had given him a “notice of threat to personal safety” last week.
The notice, seen by Reuters, says: “Reliable intelligence states that the Rwandan government poses an imminent threat to your life. The threat could come in any form.”
The Times newspaper said the police had given a similar notice to another Rwandan exile, Jonathan Musonera, 47.
The notice advises the exiles to take safety measures, such as installing burglar alarms at home and varying their routine, or to temporarily move home.
London police would not confirm that warnings had been issued to Musonera, a former Rwandan army officer, and Mugenzi.
But a police spokesman said: “In relation to warnings issued to two individuals, the Metropolitan Police takes all threats against persons extremely seriously. Appropriate actions are taken but we do not discuss individual cases.”
The Times said that a Rwandan suspected of being part of a plot against the two exiles was stopped at the Eurotunnel terminal on England’s south coast last week and left the country after being questioned by police.
The Rwandan embassy in London said the allegations about a plot were “completely without foundation.”
“The government of Rwanda does not threaten the lives of its citizens wherever they live,” it said in a statement.
“The Metropolitan Police have not approached us with evidence of allegations but we are ready ... to work with them to ensure that nobody ... is the victim of violence,” it said.
Seventeen years on from a genocide which killed up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, Rwanda, under President Paul Kagame’s strong-handed leadership style, has become a darling of Western donors and investors.
But rights groups have voiced concern about rising political repression, particularly around the time of last August’s vote in which Kagame was re-elected for another seven-year term.
Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former Rwandan army chief and liberation hero who had fallen out with Kagame, was wounded by a gunman in South Africa last year.
Rwanda, which blamed Nyamwasa for a string of deadly grenade attacks in the capital Kigali last year, dismissed the idea it might be behind his shooting as “preposterous.”
The Times said Britain had previously told Rwandan officials in London to halt alleged harassment of critics of Kagame’s government and that the reported British plot could harm ties.
Rwanda receives 83 million pounds a year in British aid.
The Foreign Office said it could not comment on the reported warning to the two Rwandan exiles.
“We take every opportunity to raise with the Rwandan government our concerns over political space, media freedom and extra-judicial killings,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.
Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Maria Golovnina