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Exiled Rwanda colonel calls for war on Kagame

Robert Mukombozi.

Karegeya

Karegeya says ‘dictators’ don’t step down, they are ‘brought down’

Jailed twice over alleged indiscipline, desertion and insubordination, PATRICK KAREGEYA was stripped of his rank of Colonel. The former Rwandan intelligence chief later fled to exile in 2007. He spoke to ROBERT MUKOMBOZI late last month about his fallout with President Kagame, escape, and life in South Africa.

R. Mukombozi:
Before delving into Rwandan issues, could you explain your role in the NRA rebellion?

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
I was born in Mbarara, Uganda, to a refugee family. I can’t remember how many primary schools I went through in Uganda. I finally earned my Bachelor of Law degree at Makerere University. It was a period of political upheaval; so, after university I started recruiting youth for NRA, but I was later arrested in June 1982 and charged with treason. I spent three years in Luzira Prison. Later, I managed to join [President] Museveni in Luweero until we finally liberated Uganda.

R. Mukombozi:
You were in the NRA, so how did you start planning the Rwanda liberation struggle?

PROFILE: Patrick Karegeya

1960 – Born to late John Kanimba and Jane Kenshoro, a refugee Rwandan family in Mbarara district.

1982 – Graduated with a Law degree from Makerere University.

1990 – Served in the Directorate of Military Intelligence in Uganda and later became the coordinator of intelligence services for rebel RPA.

1994 – 2004 – Director General, External Intelligence in the RPA/Rwanda Defence Forces.

2004 – Serving as Rwanda Defence Forces spokesman, he was arrested and detained for “indiscipline” .

2006 – Stripped of his military rank of Colonel on July 13, 2006 by the military tribunal.
2007- Flees to exile.

Married to Leah and they have a daughter and two sons.

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
It is true at the time of planning the Rwanda liberation struggle, I was an active officer in the NRA [now Uganda People’s Defence Forces]. Meetings were held at my private residence in Muyenga, Kampala. President Paul Kagame and the late Fred Rwigyema were part of those meetings, including others who are now senior leaders and army officers in the Rwandan government.
At that time I was a lieutenant in military intelligence (serving as an assistant Director-Counter Intelligence in the Directorate of Military Intelligence).
I was co-ordinating intelligence over a very wide area before any decision to invade Rwanda could be made. My spy network was widespread across Africa and overseas. My colleague (Paul Kagame) went to the United States for further studies and he was later informed that we had already invaded Rwanda. Museveni was very instrumental in the planning and subsequent invasion of Rwanda. He supported us and did not hamper any of our missions and agenda; he only asked for our cooperation and we were very cooperative.

R. Mukombozi:
What was most challenging in your career as a spy chief, especially in the struggle to liberate Rwanda?

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
Coordinating intelligence during war is very intricate, particularly in a scenario where you are dealing with insurgents, the perpetrators of genocide.
The government did not have structures and that means it didn’t have an intelligence structure as well. We went ahead and coordinated the return of thousands of Rwandans who had been displaced by the 1994 genocide but among them were ex-FAR and Interahamwe. The massive infiltration caught us off guard. It was very challenging but we built an intelligence structure which was very formidable and successful.

“It’s only Rwandans who can stand up now and fight for their freedom. Kagame will have his breaking point and I think it will be very soon.
There is no one who will come to save Rwandans from the dictatorship of Kagame and there is no time to fold hands. They should stand up to him and say look; we are tired, you have to go.”

Patrick Karegeya.

R. Mukombozi:
You said Museveni was very supportive but you were instrumental in killing his soldiers during the DR Congo (Kisangani) clashes between the RPA and UPDF between 1998 and 2003.

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
It is true I co-ordinated intelligence during that war but the DR Congo issues are very complicated. Fighting the enemy you know (the UPDF) was especially very challenging but inevitable because we had both deployed.

R. Mukombozi:
Now [President] Kagame says he will track you down for masterminding terrorist attacks in Kigali. What do you have to say about that?

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
I am actually disappointed in him. First of all, terrorism is just a political tool used by all dictators to deal with their opponents due to the weight the international community has attached to this charge. That is just blackmail.
He [Kagame] has created a lot of divisions in the army. There were wild allegations that I had problems with the Chief of General Staff [Gen. James Kabarebe] but he [Kagame] was actually the man behind all these fabricated charges of insubordination and desertion.
I remember when he [Kagame] was being called and asked where I should be jailed. Even the army wasn’t sure about which charges they should prefer against me and where I should be jailed. For all the jail terms I served in Rwanda, the army, under orders of the commander-in-chief, detained me in solitary confinement, not allowing any family member or friend to visit me, which is extreme psychological torture going by the international human rights conventions. All the orders were coming direct from Kagame.
All these are political tools that Kagame uses to silence his opponents.
I have actually stopped responding to Kagame’s accusations because it is a waste of time.
We fought for the liberation of Rwanda so that Rwandans can enjoy peace and be delivered from dictatorship but we have not seen that.
A dictator can never step down, they are brought down. It’s only Rwandans who can stand up now and fight for their freedom. Kagame will have his breaking point and I think it will be very soon.
There is no one who will come to save Rwandans from the dictatorship of Kagame and there is no time to fold hands. They should stand up to him and say look; we are tired, you have to go. Obviously some will lose their lives in the process but those who will die will have lost life for a worthy cause, and I am prepared to support Rwandans who want to fight the dictatorship of Paul Kagame.

R. Mukombozi:
How do you explain the mysterious death of Col. Lizinde in 1996 and former Internal Security Minister Seth Sendashonga on May 16, 1998, both of whom were assassinated under your watch as the Director, External Intelligence?

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
It is not only Col. Lizinde and Sendashonga who died mysteriously around that time. Many people, especially politicians, died under mysterious circumstances. I can’t say I don’t have information regarding those cases, but Kagame was the boss so he is in a better position to explain those assassinations and mysterious disappearances of people.
Families of people who lost their relatives and friends in mysterious circumstances have the right to seek answers from Kagame and if they want they can go ahead and institute a legal measure because they have the right to know what happened. When time comes for me to present my version of information, I am prepared to do that.

R. Mukombozi:
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General has written to the South African government saying security and judicial organs are in possession of evidence implicating you and Lt. Gen. Nyamwasa in acts of terrorism and grenade attacks. Are you prepared for extradition?

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
All those are fabricated and baseless charges. They are saying we bombed Kigali but we both know this is not true, but let me remind the Rwandan government that they have no extradition treaty with South Africa. I and my colleague (Gen. Nyamwasa) are in South Africa legally. We are both lawyers and we have secured political asylum, and we are well aware that no amount of political pressure can change this fact. In fact, we have waited for the Rwandan government to take legal action but we haven’t heard anything from them. We will not even need anyone to represent us in courts of law on this matter because it is a simple case that is politically motivated. We will meet in court. There is no evidence whatsoever that links us to the bombing in Kigali.

R. Mukombozi:
Are you safe in South Africa after the recent attempt on Gen. Nyamwasa’s life?

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
We have political asylum in South Africa and we will remain here. Proximity is very important. If Kagame had remained in the United States [During the 1990-94 liberation struggle and after], he would not be the Rwanda president today.

R. Mukombozi:
You sneaked out of the country dramatically in November 2007, how did you beat the security?

Col. Patrick Karegeya:
The way I managed to slip out of the hands of Rwanda’s security apparatus is still my secret. Besides, if I reveal those details I may be blocking the way for others who want to escape from Kagame’s oppressive regime. I know of so many people in Rwanda who would want to use the same route but their day hasn’t come yet and I do not want to be their obstruction.

Robert Mukombozi is currently studying for a master’s in Journalism and Mass Communication at Griffith University, Australia.

[The Observer]

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August 3, 2010   2 Comments

Rwanda: Around 30 news media closed a few days ahead of presidential election

by Reporters Without Borders.

With just a week to go to a presidential election on 9 August, the Rwandan authorities are openly flouting the rules of the democratic game. Press freedom violations, including the jailing of journalists, the closure of news media and the murder of a newspaper editor a month ago, have intensified in the run-up to the election.

The government’s latest repressive measure has been the suspension of some 30 news media by the Media High Council, the media regulatory body.

Other recent events in Rwanda:
● 13 July 2010 – Offensive against media continues with arrest of fortnightly’s editor
● 25 June 2010 – Newspaper’s deputy editor gunned down outside home in Kigali.
● 11 June 2010 – Persecution of independent newspapers extended to online versions

Media High Council executive secretary Patrice Mulama issued a communiqué on 26 July listing 19 radio stations and 22 newspapers that have been recognised by the government as “fulfilling the publication or broadcasting conditions envisaged by the law of 12 August 2009 that regulates the media.” Article 96 of this law gave the print and broadcast media three months to submit a request for an operating permit to the council, as envisaged by article 24.

By excluding them from the approved list, the communiqué has the effect of banning Rwanda’s leading newspapers, such as Umuseso, Umuvugizi and Umurabyo, and several radio stations, including Voice of Africa Rwanda (a Muslim radio station) and Voice of America. Mulama said the newspapers would not be able to resume publishing until they complied with the law. He gave the radio stations until the weekend to collect the required documents.

The Media High Council issued a follow-up communiqué on 28 July ordering the security forces to shut down all the newspapers and radio stations that were operating illegally. The same day, the police seized copies of Rwanda Newsline, an English-language newspaper published by Rwanda Independent Media Group (Rimeg), on the grounds that it is not recognised in Rwanda.

“The Media High Council’s measures, coming just a few days before the election, are highly suspect,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The aim is to clamp down on the press and prevent journalists from doing their job as independent and impartial observers of the election process.”

The press freedom organisation added: “How can a normal election be held without a free press, without voters having access to independent information and being able to follow an open debate? What we are seeing is not an open presidential election. It is a closely orchestrated exercise designed to return Paul Kagame to office.”

It is indicative of the government’s desire to bring the media to heel that Mulama said Rwanda’s journalists needed to “return to their senses” and that the law needed to restore credibility to journalism, which he described as “public rubbish dump.”

Agnès Uwimana Nkusi, the editor of the privately-owned fortnightly Umurabyo, and Saidati Mukakibibi, one of her journalists, were meanwhile placed in pre-trial detention on 20 July on charges of insulting the president, inciting civil disobedience and denying the Tutsi genocide.

In a 13 July release about Nkusi’s arrest five days before, Reporters Without Borders had urged the European Union to suspend funding for the Rwandan presidential election. See the previous release.

Rwanda was ranked 157th out of 175 countries in the 2009 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. This was the fourth lowest ranking in Africa, above only Eritrea, Somalia and Equatorial Guinea. President Kagame has for years been on the Reporters Without Borders list of Predators of Press Freedom.

[Reporters Without Borders]

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August 3, 2010   No Comments

Critics intensify campaign against Rwanda rigged elections

paul-kagame-tough

“Whoever does not like the Rwanda way of democracy should go and hang”
Paul Kagame.

Kigali – Hours after President Kagame firing at his fierce foreign critics telling them to “go hung” (see Defiant Kagame tells critics: You “can go hung”), they are countering with a drive to put Rwanda in the spotlight – less than seven days to the presidential poll on Monday next week.

In Washington, several campaign groups, individuals and American politicians have organised a conference on Tuesday to protest against the August 09 election they say is a foregone conclusion.

The American attorney Prof. Peter Erlinder jailed for three weeks here on charges of Genocide denial will be also be there at the Washington event. Erlinder said he would have never come to Rwanda if he had known what the political climate was like.

“I thought with the election coming up and with the many nice things that the United States government has said about the Rwandan government recently and the progress that it has made … Unfortunately what is happening now raises serious questions about whether that progress was real or whether we really do have a military dictatorship that is being supported by our government. It raises a lot of very difficult questions,” Erlinder said.

Fear, nervousness… no freedoms

Following the arrest of Erlinder, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the time she understood the anxiety of Rwanda’s leadership over what they view as genocide denial, but she urged Rwanda not to undermine its remarkable progress by beginning to move away from positive actions.

Analyst Steve McDonald, with the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, recently returned from Rwanda and was also said disturbed by what he experienced.

“The fear is palpable, the nervousness, the feeling that there is no freedom of speech and association and gathering in the society and I think this could be disastrous,” he said.

He says he believes President Kagame is refusing post-genocide reconciliation as a means to exert his authority. But McDonald is not surprised he has received praise and many awards in the United States, including the Clinton Global Citizen Award last year, from former President Bill Clinton.

“Kagame is an extremely energetic, extremely intelligent man who has fully taken advantage of many of the hot buttons that he knows the West cares about, that is economic progress, that is environmental concern, that is furthering information technology,” McDonald said.

“He is taking the lead on the international stage that originally put him among these new African leaders during the Clinton administration, including Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia, and [Yoweri] Museveni in Uganda.”

“Just election hype”

McDonald says since then he believes these leaders have failed their countries in terms of democracy and human rights.

President Kagame himself has denied his government has been behind any of the killings, and has accused the western critics of making up a crisis in his country which does not exist.

“Why would government be that stupid? I never knew I would be in a government that would be seen as that stupid, that would kill journalists, opposition leaders, one after another, you kill and you kill, as if there is anything to gain from it,” Kagame said at a press conference July 20, just hours before he launched his campaign drive.

In a policy statement to a US Congress committee of lawmakers in May, top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Johnnie Carson, said the political environment in Rwanda was in his words “riddled by a series of worrying actions.”

In response, Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo shot back in an email message to RNA saying that was “an out-of-Rwanda reading of the situation in Rwanda, with added election hype.”

Election will be “free and fair”

Africa advocacy groups holding a protest conference Tuesday in Washington say foreign election observers in Rwanda will be a waste of money.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) says in a new crisis assessment that Rwanda there is increasing “political violence and a shrinking of the democratic space” ahead of the polls.

“Although the government denies any involvement, this month’s events should be seen as part of an alarming trend towards repression and intimidation, which could have serious security implications come next month’s elections,” said ICG in the assessment released August 01.

The donor community meanwhile seems to have given a clean-bill to the elections, indicating that the polls will be “free and fair”.

The European Union said last week that the introduction of a revised electoral code should ensure a peaceful and technically sound ballot, following the European Union’s recommendations after the 2008 legislative elections where they found procedural irregularities in over half the polling stations.

Frans Makken, Dutch ambassador and co-chair of the EU fund for the NEC, said results will be published outside polling stations and ballot boxes numbered to aid transparency.

“The electoral law has been adjusted for the better, thousands of volunteers have received training, instructions have been adjusted in line with EU observations. We trust that the conduct of the elections will be free and fair,” Makken told Reuters Friday.

With additional reporting from VOA and agencies
[ARI-RNA]

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August 3, 2010   2 Comments

Defiant Kagame tells critics: You “can go hung”

kame-in-campaign-gicumbi-sm

Kagame in campaign – Gicumbi – Aug 2010

Kigali – President Kagame stood Monday before tens of thousands in Gicumbi with just one simple message: that if his critics do not see the support he has, they can find another place to live.

“Give RPF another chance to develop the nation,” he said amidst wild cheering, on the latest leg of his campaign in Gicumbi, northern Rwanda.

“This is a struggle for democracy,” Kagame said, and put to question the authority of his fierce critics in the west who have recent raised concerns over Rwanda’s democratic credentials.

“Democracy is when people gathered in such a place to decide on their own what they want.

This is the time for Rwandans to make their choice and whoever is not interested may go and hang,” he fired as the crowd erupted in repeated chanting, dancing and drumming.

“When people choose what they want, that is democracy. When they reject negative forces and divisionism, that is democracy. When they choose the leadership they want that is democracy,” Kagame said. “Whoever does not like the Rwanda way of democracy should go and hang.”

President Kagame praised the attendance at today’s rally as a sign of support for the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front’s policies.

“I am so happy you came in large numbers, which means you love your country and its prospects for democracy,” Kagame said. “Foreigners who write that there is no democracy in Rwanda should come and see.”

[ARI-RNA]

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August 3, 2010   1 Comment