As Rwanda Prepares For Elections: Hawks On The Run
continued from: Open debate in a closed political context?
Hawks on the run
On Wednesday 3 March, President Kagame accused two high ranking Rwandan officers of attempting to destabilise Rwanda: the former chief of foreign intelligence, Colonel Patrick Karegeya, and General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, former Chief of the General Staff of the Rwandan army and Ambassador to India who had also fled to South Africa, according to the Rwandan judiciary.
“Nobody, not a single person, not even Kayumba, can make a coup d’etat here. Think about it and you will conclude that no-one can make a coup d’etat in Rwanda”, President Kagame insisted.
Around the same time the state prosecutor, Martin Ngoga, accused General Kayumba Nyamwasa of the grenade attacks of 19 February.
For a long time these two soldiers originating from the Ugandan Anglophone diaspora had been among the regime’s key personalities.
Patrick Karegeya was not only the former intelligence chief, he was also the main man running the Congo Desk, a bureau run by the External Security Department which was created in order to manage the exploitation of the wealth of eastern DRC, the income from which did not appear in official government accounts.
This system enabled the army and political leaders to conceal huge sums of money.
In all the discussions and documents relating to the official withdrawal of the Rwandan army from the Congo in September 2002 it has been very hard to distinguish precisely between the role of the Rwandan state and that of the non-state political and military lobbies as regards the illicit exploitation of Congolese resources and the support given to military groups such as the CNDP.
In the shadowy zone between the state and the Rwandan lobbies, Patrick Karegeya and the Congo Desk occupied a central position.
Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa grew up in the south of Uganda and he became one of the most powerful people in the Rwanda army.
He led the military campaigns in the north east of the country in the years following the genocide.
In 2001 he was replaced as head of the army by General Emmanuel Habyarimana, who was himself later replaced by James Kaberebe. Kayumba was sent for training to the United Kingdom.
In 2004, he was appointed ambassador to India. Political insiders in Rwanda have always believed that this appointment (and even sending him earlier to England) was a step taken by President Kagame to remove Kayumba from the centre of politico-military affairs in Rwanda as he was starting to build his own base within the core group of power in Rwanda.
In November 2006, the French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, issued an international arrest warrant against Kayumba and eight other high ranking military men close to Kagame in connexion with the enquiry into the attack on President Juvénal Habyarimana’s airplane on 6 April 1994 which triggered the genocide.
In February 2008, the Spanish magistrate, Fernando Andreu Merelles, issued fourty arrest warrants against senior officers in the Rwanda army (including Kayumba) for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism committed in Rwanda and in the DRC between 1 October 1990 and 2002.
The cases had been submitted to the Spanish courts in 2000 by relatives of Spanish victims killed in Rwanda, religious and humanitarian workers and by exiled Rwandan organisations.
In an interview after his arrival in South Africa General Kayumba spoke of the transformation of Kagame’s regime into a dictatorship and of his own commitment to a democratic Rwanda.
One must, however, make a distinction between hawks and doves inside Rwanda’s power structure – but Kayumba is most certainly no dove…
Read further: Déo Mushayidi
EurAc is the European Network of Active NGOs in Central Africa. EurAC is made up of 49 member-organisations from 12 European countries.