Tribert Rujugiro: Exiled Rwandan accused of terrorism financing is dead

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Tribert Rujugiro: Exiled Rwandan accused of terrorism financing is dead
Tribert Rujugiro was accused by Kigali government of terrorism financing

OBITUARY | Renowned Rwandan industrialist and businessman, Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, has passed on at the age of 82.

His death has been confirmed by Rwandan media outlets including the State-owned The New Times Rwandan

The circumstances surrounding his death remained unclear by Wednesday morning.

Rujugiro, who has been residing in South Africa, is commonly known for his entrepreneurial businesses in the tobacco industry, where he established and headed Africa's largest tobacco company, Pan African Tobacco Group.

Rujugiro's name has been marred in controversy, including allegations of involvement in terrorism financing against the government of Rwanda.

Amidst the strained relations between Uganda and Rwanda, speculation arose regarding Uganda's refusal to extradite Rujugiro to Rwanda.

Rujugiro was purported to have ties to groups opposing the Kigali government. Uganda's reluctance to comply with extradition requests is said to have been a contributing factor to the three-year diplomatic rift between the neighbouring countries from February 2019 to January 2022.

The rift was later dealt with after the presidential advisor on special operations now turned Chief of defense forces Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba intervened and made trips to Rwanda to have the diplomatic tensions calmed down between the two countries.

In 2021, a report focusing on East Africa's efforts to combat extremism, crime, corruption, and illicit trade implicated Tribert Ayabatwa Rujugiro in illicit trade and the financing of terrorism.

Released by the Counter Extremism Project, titled "An Unholy Alliance: Connections between Extremism and Illicit Trade in East Africa", the report highlighted the growing threat to regional stability posed by illicit markets and trade driven by corruption.

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) is an international policy organization led by a distinguished group of former world leaders and diplomats based in Germany, New York, and London.

Specifically, the report pointed to the illicit tobacco trade in the East Africa region as a means of funding extremist groups, with Rujugiro, an exiled Rwandan businessman, being central to these activities.

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