Kagame: Treason brings consequences



Rwandan President Paul Kagame has warned that “treason brings consequences”, apparently referring to the country’s former spy chief, found dead in South Africa.

The body of Patrick Karegeya — a fierce critic of Kagame — was found on New Year’s Day in a luxury hotel room in Johannesburg where he had spent the past several years in exile. (READ: Rwandan ex-spy chief found ‘murdered’)

Police, who found a bloodied towel and a rope in the room’s safe, said a preliminary investigation indicated he might have been strangled and opened a murder probe.

Karegeya’s supporters immediately accused the Rwandan government of being behind his killing.

“If someone feels no shame in destroying what we have built over a period of time, I for my part will not feel shy of protecting what we have built,” Kagame said at a prayer breakfast in Kigali.

“Treason brings consequences,” he warned Karegeya’s fellow dissidents and other former allies who have gone into exile.

“All those fellows would have been nothing if it wasn’t for Rwanda,” he went on.

“Anyone who betrays our cause or wishes our people ill will fall victim. What remains to be seen is how you fall victim,” Kagame said.


Karegeya was the former head of Rwanda’s external intelligence service and once a close ally of Kagame. In 2004 he was demoted, then arrested and served an 18-month jail sentence for desertion and insubordination.

He was stripped of his rank of colonel in July 2006 and he fled the country the following year. Kagame’s comments follow remarks Saturday by Defence Minister James Kabarebe.

“Ignore those making noise saying that someone was strangled with a rope in the seventh floor in a certain country,” Kabarebe told a public meeting promoting reconciliation among Rwandans.

“If you choose to be a dog you die like a dog and cleaners will remove the trash and dump it where it is supposed to be so that it doesn’t stink for others. Those that have fallen victim, its because they have chosen that path,” Kabarebe was quoted as saying in local media.

The minister confirmed to AFP that he had made those comments, adding: “When someone like him dies … we are not really bothered.”


Kagame and Kabarebe argued that Karegeya and his allies were behind a series of bloody grenade attacks in Rwanda over the past several years. A Rwandan court in 2011 sentenced Karegeya in absentia to 20 years.

Three other dissidents were handed similar sentences. All four were charged with “forming a terrorist group, threatening state security, undermining public order, promoting ethnic divisions and insulting the person of the President of the Republic”.

Karegeya had denied being linked in any way to the grenade attacks.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, earlier said in Twitter messages that Karegeya was a “self-declared” enemy of Rwanda.

“You expect pity?” she asked her followers in the days following his death.


By Mzee Posted in kenya

8 comments on “Kagame: Treason brings consequences

  1. Assassination in Africa: Inside the plots to kill Rwanda’s dissidents

    Geoffrey York and JUDI REVER

    PRETORIA and BRUSSELS — The Globe and Mail


    Much of the world regards President Paul Kagame as a hero. But 20 years after he helped to stop his country’s brutal genocide, there are mounting allegations that he is silencing dissenters with violence.

    A months-long, international inquiry by The Globe’s Geoffrey York and contributor Judi Rever has uncovered explosive testimonies from those who say they were recruited for assassinations – including an alleged recording of one job offer
    (David Johnson/Corbis Outline)

    ‘The price is not a problem,” says the man on the phone. “We will show our appreciation if things are beautifully done. They will be rewarded.”

    The tone of this offer, calm and confident, is so casual it could be about bringing on workers for a plumbing job. What is actually under discussion: $1-million for the hiring of contract killers to assassinate two of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s most hated enemies.

    It is 2011, and the speaker is Colonel Dan Munyuza, Rwanda’s director of military intelligence and a trusted ally of the Rwandan president. The man on the other end of the line is Robert Higiro, a former Rwandan army major living in exile.

    But Mr. Higiro said he had no intention of hiring killers. He had been tapped for the assassinations months before, and informed the targets. They told him to play along with Col. Munyuza – and to tape the explosive conversations.

    When one of the two targets was brutally killed on Dec. 31, and gunmen tried to kill the second, Mr. Higiro agreed to share those recordings with The Globe and Mail. Three independent sources – former army colleagues who also know Col. Munyuza personally – confirmed that the voice on tape is his. Two independent translators worked on transcribing the phone recordings from the original Kinyarwanda language.

    The phone recordings are part of a months-long investigation by The Globe into murder plots organized by the Rwandan government. Rwandan exiles in both South Africa and Belgium – speaking in clandestine meetings in secure locations because of their fears of attack – gave detailed accounts of being recruited to assassinate critics of President Kagame.

    Their evidence is the strongest yet to support what human rights groups and Rwandan exiles have suspected for years about the Rwandan government’s involvement in attacks or planned attacks on dissidents, not only in South Africa but in Britain, Sweden, Belgium, Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique.

    It also raises new questions about the world’s moral stand on Rwanda. This year, the country marks the 20th anniversary of a shocking genocide. Because he helped stop the genocide, Mr. Kagame is hailed as a hero and his reborn country is touted as a model for African development – stable, business-oriented, fast-growing, environmentally clean and virtually free of pettty corruption. But as revelations of murder plots and assassinations mount, easy narratives of good overcoming evil become more and more difficult to sustain. The reality in Rwanda is far more complex. The mass killings of the 1990s and the recent assassination plots left almost no one untainted.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Kagame’s enemies live in fear – or in hiding – after a wave of attacks against them.

    And they are the lucky ones: On New Year’s Eve, one of the Mr. Kagame’s most-wanted, Rwandan dissident Patrick Karegeya, was brutally strangled to death in a Johannesburg hotel room. His killer or killers remain at large.
    Too close for comfort

    Rwanda has repeatedly denied any link to the attacks on dissidents abroad. Presented with the key allegations in this story, Vincent Karegeya, the Rwandan high commissioner to South Africa, said this week that the accounts by exiles are false and are motivated by a “political agenda.”

    If their stories are true, he said, they should go to the police and provide evidence for criminal charges. “These are stories that we can’t rely on. They even sound a bit bizarre. It’s a basic principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

    When The Globe requested an interview with Col. Munyuza, the high commission said it would be impossible because the colonel is not an official government spokesman.

    The assassination plots matter because of their implications for a country that is crucial to Western policy in Central Africa. Although a nation of only about 12 million people, Rwanda has been a key player in the wars and rebellions that have killed millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its role in perpetrating violence beyond its borders has often been ignored because of the worldwide sympathy for the 1994 genocide. Even reports from UN investigators accusing Mr. Kagame’s army of mass slaughters in Congo in the 1990s have generally been brushed aside by the West, which continues to offer huge amounts of aid and political support to the country.

    But many of Mr. Kagame’s closest aides, who have inside knowledge of the violence in Central Africa, have defected and fled the country in recent years. These men, now dissidents, were members of Mr. Kagame’s inner circle during some of the most significant events in African history: the presidential jet that was shot down in 1994, killing the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and igniting the Rwandan genocide, for example, and the 2001 assassination of Laurent Kabila, the Rwandan-backed rebel who became Congo’s president. There have been frequent allegations that Mr. Kagame’s loyalists were involved in both events, and the exiled dissidents say they have evidence to support those suspicions.

    Four high-profile dissidents formed the Rwanda National Congress in 2010. The organization’s goal is “to bring political change to Rwanda.” Mr. Kagame has denounced its leaders as “terrorists” and cancelled their Rwandan passports. In early 2011, they were tried in a military court in absentia and sentenced to 20 to 24 years of prison on charges of destabilizing public order, endangering state security and fuelling ethnic division.

    The convictions are dubious. Rwanda’s courts are not independent. Mr. Kagame dominates the country in an authoritarian system that permits no serious opposition. But he remains enraged at the RNC’s challenge. The two RNC founders at the top of Mr. Kagame’s most-wanted list – and who Mr. Higiro alleges he was paid to have murdered – were Mr. Kagame’s former army chief, General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, and his former intelligence chief, Colonel Karegeya.

    Because both men were part of Mr. Kagame’s regime, they have not escaped blame for atrocities in the 1990s. A Spanish court has accused Gen. Nyamwasa of war crimes because of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s involvement in the killing of civilians and refugees during that time. (The same court also found evidence against Mr. Kagame and his defence minister, but said Mr. Kagame had immunity as a head of state.) The general has also been asked to testify on the RPF’s role in the presidential jet crash of 1994, which is still being investigated by an anti-terrorism inquiry in France.

    But the complications of their own pasts also make men like Gen. Nyamwasa and other RNC leaders dangerous to Mr. Kagame. Gen. Nyamwasa’s testimony, for example, could contain fresh revelations about who was responsible for the 1994 plane crash. He and other leaders also have extensive military connections that could allow them to incite a revolt against the Rwandan President. “These are people who were close to him, people who understand his way of operating,” says Mr. Higiro. “Kayumba [Nyamwasa] formed the military. He knows everybody.”
    Most-wanted men

    Major-General Paul Kagame’s forces appeared on the verge of seizing the capital of Kigali on May 22, 1994. The RPF captured the airport, the main government army Kanombe barracks and headed toward the heart of the city. (Jeremiah Kamau/Reuters)

    Over the past four years, Gen. Nyamwasa has been the target of a series of attacks and murder plots, which – according to the South African government and other sources – were orchestrated by Rwandan government agents. Deeply worried about his safety, he agreed to talk to The Globe only in a heavily guarded courtroom in the town of Kagiso, near Johannesburg, where six men (including three Rwandans) are on trial for one of those attempts to kill him.

    At one time, though, the general was one of the Rwandan President’s closest comrades. He served with Mr. Kagame in the Ugandan army in the late-1980s; together they helped found the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a largely Tutsi rebel movement, and led its invasion of Rwanda in 1990, fighting the largely Hutu army during the genocide. When the RPF became the ruling party in 1994, Gen. Nyamwasa held senior posts, including as the army chief of staff.

    He says he began to fall out with Mr. Kagame around 2002, when the government arrested a Hutu opposition leader and former president, Pasteur Bizimungu. Gen. Nyamwasa says he disagreed with the arrest. He remembers how Mr. Kagame became “jittery and excited” in their arguments, denouncing Mr. Bizimungu as an “enemy.”

    A few years later, Gen. Nyamwasa was pushed aside and appointed to a lower-ranking post as ambassador to India. Then, in early 2010, on a return trip to Rwanda, he was interrogated by senior RPF officials about his suspected dissent, and realized he could be arrested. So, at dawn the next morning, he drove to the border and swam across a crocodile-infested river to Uganda. “It was dangerous, but I had to take the risk,” he says. “I knew they would kill me.”

    He made his way to South Africa, but his defection infuriated Mr. Kagame. Three months after arriving in South Africa, he was shot in the stomach by assailants at his home in a Johannesburg suburb. (He still has the bullet in his spine.) As he recuperated in hospital, another group of attackers tried to kill him in his room. According to South African officials, one of the suspects planned to strangle the general with string.

    Rwandan government agents were among the six people arrested for the first attack, according to the South African authorities, who also reported that the suspects had offered a $1-million bribe to get the charges dropped.

    In total, Gen. Nyamwasa says he has been the target of at least four murder attempts – most recently on March 4, when a group of heavily armed men broke into his government-supplied “safe house” in Johannesburg and hunted for him room-by-room after overpowering his police guards.

    He had been forewarned, and the house was empty. Things went differently for the other man on Mr. Kagame’s hit-list, Patrick Karegeya.

    Born in exile in Uganda, Col. Karegeya joined Mr. Kagame and the RPF rebel movement in its early days, leading up to its invasion of Rwanda in 1990. He was the intelligence chief from 1994 to 2004, but began to disagree with Mr. Kagame’s repressive policies.

    He was jailed for six months in 2005 for unspecified “disciplinary” infractions. The following year, he was jailed again for 18 months for “desertion and insubordination.” When he was released from prison in November, 2007, he fled the country and journeyed to South Africa as a refugee.

    The South African government put him up in a safe house to prevent him from being attacked. But Col. Karegeya found it difficult to earn an income in the witness-protection system, and he felt isolated. His daughter, a university student and intern at a human-rights centre, was living in Canada.

    Col. Karegeya moved out of the safe house and let down his guard – a decision that cost him his life.

    David Batenga, his nephew, remembers the horror of identifying his uncle’s body after he was strangled with a towel and a curtain rope in an upscale hotel in Johannesburg’s business district, Sandton. After his uncle had disappeared on Dec. 31, it took him many hours to persuade the hotel staff to check the room. By the time the hotel contacted police to investigate, Col. Karegeya had been dead for 24 hours. His face was blackened and shrunk, and the killer or killers were long gone.

    In an interview last month at a hotel where he feels safe, Mr. Batenga said his uncle was normally very cautious about meeting any visitor from Rwanda. But in late December, he was visited by an old and trusted friend: a Rwandan businessman whom he had known for many years.

    The businessman had been harassed by Rwandan authorities because of his friendship with Col. Karegeya, and this made the colonel sympathetic to him, Mr. Batenga said. But he was also developing a major retail project in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, which may have left him vulnerable to pressure from Rwandan agents seeking his co-operation in a murder plot.

    Before his arrival in Johannesburg on Dec. 29, the businessman had asked Col. Karegeya to rent him a room at the Michelangelo Towers hotel. On New Year’s Eve, the Colonel visited the hotel room, number 905, to share a drink with his friend. He was never seen alive again.

    Directly across the hotel corridor from room 905, Mr. Batenga alleges, two Rwandan agents had rented a room – and he believes they were involved in the murder. The next morning, before the body was discovered, all of them returned to Kigali on a commercial flight, he said.

    Within days, Rwanda’s top leaders were gloating about Col. Karegeya’s murder. The foreign minister and prime minister denounced the former intelligence chief as an “enemy” who had suffered the consequences of his “betrayal” of his country. “When you choose to be a dog, you die like a dog, and the cleaners will wipe away the trash,” said the defence minister, Gen. James Kabarebe.

    Mr. Kagame denied Rwandan involvement in Col. Karegeya’s murder but said he would have been happy if Rwanda had killed him. “I really wish it,” he told an interviewer.

    Even before this murder, Mr. Kagame made little secret of his desire to see the RNC leaders dead. “Maybe he deserves it,” Mr. Kagame told an interviewer in 2012 when asked about the attempted murder of Gen. Nyamwasa. His propaganda newspaper, the New Times, said the RNC leaders should suffer the same fate as Osama bin Laden.
    Robert Higiro was part of Paul Kagame’s rebel army in 1990 when it invaded Rwanda. Here, the two men (Mr. Higiro at right) attend a military academy ceremony. (Courtesy of Robert Higiro)
    ‘He has a job for you’

    The investigation by The Globe and Mail found a common thread in interviews about plots to murder exiles: Rwandan agents search for vulnerable people within the social circles of their targets and then put pressure on them or offer them money in exchange for their co-operation. In some cases, the agents go back repeatedly to the same potential assassins even if they failed to do the job, urging them to do what they were paid to do.

    Robert Higiro was one of them.

    Born in exile in Uganda in 1972, he joined Mr. Kagame’s rebel army in 1990 when it invaded Rwanda. After 20 years in the army, he was serving as a United Nations peacekeeper in Darfur in 2010 when he fell afoul of the Rwandan authorities after making offhand comments critical of two senior Rwandan army officers.

    Mr. Higiro was discharged from the army. He needed to make a new living, so he went to Uganda to pursue business opportunities, but was soon summoned to the Rwandan army headquarters to be questioned.

    Mr. Higiro says it was then that Col. Munyuza first reached out to him. He was given about $500 for his transportation home (much more than he needed). But he says he was also put under covert surveillance. He wondered why he was becoming the subject of such attention.

    He eventually fled to Senegal, where he had contacts, and within a few days was working for a French security company in Dakar.

    Someone tied to Col. Munyuza came to talk to him.

    “He has a job for you,” Mr. Higiro says the intermediary told him.

    A few days later, Col. Munyuza phoned him and asked him to go to South Africa to kill Col. Karegeya and Gen. Nyamwasa, says Mr. Higiro. If he did the job, the intelligence chief promised that he would be amply rewarded and would become “a hero” in his country.

    Mr. Higiro stalled, fearing that he would be killed no matter what happened. He decided to phone Col. Karegeya – an old family friend – to warn him of the plot. Mr. Higiro says they agreed that he should play along with Mr. Munyuza’s offer and secretly record the phone conversations. (Jump to an excerpt of one of those conversations.)

    Mr. Higiro went to South Africa and invented a cover story. He told Col. Munyuza that he knew a South African military officer with a friend who could gain access to the dissisdent’s bodyguards. The bodyguards could either kill the targets or allow a Rwandan hit squad to do the job. Mr. Higiro says he asked for a $1.5-million (U.S.) payment to arrange the hit, and Col. Munyuza countered with an offer of $1-million in installments.

    In their recorded conversations, the man identified as Col. Munyuza suggests that the hit men could be rewarded with “a piece of the market” – possibly a contract at a Rwandan cellphone company. “Tell him that the essential thing is that the job is done and I’ll take care of the rest,” he says to Mr. Higiro. “I know people who’ve carried out similar jobs in the past, and they are well-treated today.”

    In another conversation, the colonel tells Mr. Higiro: “If we managed to hit both of them … the others would shut up.”

    He adds: “If he could kill two birds with one stone and eliminate them both at once, he could earn more. Even one alone, the enemy would be weakened.”

    But these conversations eventually ended when the Rwandan officials refused to provide any upfront money. Talks petered off. And Mr. Higiro decided to take the chance to escape, first to Kenya, then Belgium, where he has applied for refugee status.

    After the latest attacks on Rwandan dissidents this year, though, he decided to disclose the secret phone recordings.

    “I think it’s time to expose – using evidence that we have – that this conspiracy of assassinations is going on,” he said in an interview in a hotel room in Brussels.
    ‘I can’t kill refugees’

    A similar murder plot is described by a Rwandan exile named Gustave Tuyishime.

    Born in Rwanda in 1979, he migrated to South Africa as a young man and got UN refugee status in 2001. He worked in odd jobs in Pretoria, as a taxi driver, a barman and a bouncer, but was often desperate for money. In 2011, he says, a Rwandan intelligence agent approached him and offered him about 100,000 rand (about $16,000 at the time) to buy a gun and shoot Gen. Nyamwasa or other RNC leaders, whom he knew through the small Rwandan exile community.

    A total of about $15,000 was wired to him, he says, and he was given the address of a safe house in a small rural town where Gen. Nyamwasa was being guarded. He says he was promised millions of dollars, plus a government medal, if he completed the job. But he got cold feet. “I can’t kill refugees,” he says. “I’m a refugee myself.”

    He spent the money on a new car, warned the dissidents of the murder plot, gave a statement to the South African police, and then went into hiding, to the fury of the Rwandan agents.

    Mr. Tuyishime, though highly nervous, agreed to meet for an interview at a Pretoria hotel after being contacted by Kennedy Gihana, an immigration lawyer and Kagame opponent who had become the RNC’s secretary-general. The two know each other through Rwandan refugee circles and remain on amicable terms – even though Mr. Tuyishime says he was twice contracted to kill Mr. Gihana himself.

    It was last year, Mr. Tuyishime says, that a senior Rwandan diplomat tracked him down and told him to repay the debt from the Gen. Nyamwasa job by doing a new hit for them.

    First, he says, the diplomat offered him 200 rand to find the hospital room of Mr. Gihana, who had been injured in a car accident in early December, 2013. Then, Mr. Tuyishime says, he was offered money to kill Mr. Gihana. But instead he warned him, and Mr. Gihana quickly moved to another hospital.

    Mr. Tuyishime says he also filed a statement with a police station in Pretoria, giving details of the murder plot. A text message on his cellphone from the police station gives the file number of the case.

    A few weeks later, though, just before Patrick Karegeya was strangled to death, the diplomat gave him a new assignment: for a $5,000 payment, he says, he was supposed to set fire to an RNC house in a Pretoria suburb.

    “They think you will see the money and you’ll do whatever they want,” Mr. Tuyishime says. But again, he was unwilling to do the job.

    Three days after the murder of Col. Karegeya, he says, the Rwandan diplomat who had been contacting him found him in a Pretoria hotel. “You didn’t do what we told you to do,” the diplomat told him angrily. “So we did it ourselves.” Two days later, he says, the diplomat issued a death threat to him: “You will be the second to die.”

    Mr. Gihana, too, says he often gets phone calls from South African police officers warning him of new threats on his life. When the Rwandan embassy hosted a social event at a Johannesburg hotel, the dissidents boldly tried to barge in, and Mr. Gihana says the diplomat told him: “I didn’t come here as a diplomat. I came here to hunt you.”

    Other RNC leaders in South Africa have also been the targets of mysterious attacks – including Frank Ntwali, a laywer who is Gen. Nyamwasa’s brother-in-law and the head of the RNC’s Africa branch. In August, 2012, in Johannesburg, a car with police-style blue lights pulled over his vehicle, and three men approached him. “Are you Frank?” one asked. A second man jumped into the back seat and stabbed him repeatedly in the shoulder and hip.

    He fought back and the men ran away. He was stabbed 10 times but survived, perhaps because of the thick winter coat he was wearing. The assailants were clearly uninterested in robbery – they ignored his cellphone, computer and wallet.

    Mr. Ntwali has become so worried about the threat of attack that he often removes the batteries from his cellphone so that his movements cannot be traced. “They will keep coming after me,” he said in an interview in a Johannesburg restaurant. “But they’ll never succeed. Only God has the right to take our lives. The cause that I’m fighting for is bigger than I am. It’s about liberty. People won’t be intimidated forever.”
    Rwandan President Paul Kagame addresses an audience on the campus of Tufts University on April 22, 2014. Kagame spoke on issues relating to the 20th anniversary of the genocide of the Tutsis. (Steven Senne/AP)
    Forward, carefully

    Global authorities are taking what they hear from Rwandan dissidents seriously. Their own investigations have confirmed their stories, and they are trying to protect the dissidents by urging Mr. Kagame to restrain himself.

    The U.S. State Department has already warned the Kagame government that it must not “silence dissidents.” It has expressed “deep concern” over Mr. Kagame’s public threats against critics and the apparent “politically motivated attacks” on them.

    In Britain, police warned two dissidents in 2011 that the Rwandan government “poses an imminent threat to your life.”

    In Sweden, a Rwandan diplomat was expelled in 2012 for “espionage” against Rwandan refugees, and authorities protected an exiled Rwandan newspaper editor who feared for his life.

    Despite Rwandan officials’ denials, the South African government has concluded that the country’s diplomats have been involved in murder and attempted murder. In 2010, it recalled its ambassador from Rwanda to protest an attack on a dissident in Johannesburg. And in March, after the latest attack, it expelled four Rwandan diplomats and accused them of “direct links” to the Karegeya assassination and other attempted murders and “organized criminal networks.”

    There is also the ongoing trial against the six people accused of trying to kill Gen. Nyamwasa in 2010. The trial is now in its final stages, with a verdict expected in the next few weeks.

    While he awaits that ruling, the general sits on a bench at the back of the courtroom, protected by seven South African police officers with guns and bulletproof vests. It’s one of the few places where he feels secure.

    On Christmas Eve, a week before Col. Karegeya’s death, the general met socially with the fellow dissident. On that same night, he remembers, Col. Karegeya got a mysterious phone call from a Rwandan intelligence agent who had been briefly arrested in 2010 in connection with the general’s shooting. The agent may have been trying to discover where the two men were located, Gen. Nyamwasa said.

    Faced with violent attacks in South Africa and repression in Rwanda, the dissidents see little hope for peaceful solutions. In every election, Mr. Kagame wins more than 90 per cent of the vote, a result that has been widely questioned by democracy advocates. Some of the RNC leaders have hinted that an armed revolt or coup, led by the Rwandan army, might be the only way to depose him. It would be “self-defence,” they argue.

    “If you imprison people and force them into exile, the anger could end up in war again,” Gen. Nyamwasa says.

    He’s not afraid to talk about the genocide in Rwanda either. The general says his lawyers are still talking to French authorities about their investigation into the RPF’s role in the presidential crash of 1994, the event that triggered the genocide.

    “If I’m alive, and if the opportunity arises. I will tell my story.”

    Staying alive requires care, of course – for targets as well as those recruited to attack them.

    In Pretoria, Gustave Tuyishime says he doesn’t feel safe these days, and he takes precautions to stay out of sight. “I sleep in a car,” he says.

    Robert Higiro, the ex-army major who secretly recorded Col. Munyuza, also keeps a low profile in his new hometown in Belgium.

    He does speak out when he can by attending impromptu meetings and doing interviews. But he moves around. He shifts his daily patterns and is unable to attend regular Flemish language class for fear of being spotted.

    For all that, he still has ongoing security concerns, which Belgian authorities are aware of. He sometimes gets phone calls from Rwandan visitors who seem to be looking for him.

    “I’m definitely being hunted,” he says. “I’m in a fragile situation. I’m afraid, but it doesn’t stop me from doing what I have to do.”

    Geoffrey York is The Globe’s Africa correspondent, based in Johannesburg.

    Judi Rever is a Montreal-based freelance reporter who contributes to media outlets including Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

    Major Robert Higiro says he was recruited by Rwanda’s intelligence in late 2010 to kill Colonel Patrick Karegeya and General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, the most wanted men on Rwanda’s hit list.

    Just a few months earlier, Gen. Nyamwasa narrowly escaped death after being shot in the stomach by suspected Rwandan agents. An alleged second attempt to kill the general while he was in the hospital was foiled by South African intelligence.

    Desperate and defiant, Mr. Higiro decided to inform Col. Karegeya and Gen. Nyamwasa of the plot. They told him to play along with the plan and tape the conversations in order to provide evidence of the crime.

    The conversations between Mr. Higiro and Colonel Dan Munyuza, Rwanda’s head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, focused on strategy and logistics: getting access to the men’s South African bodyguards and negotiating a payment for carrying out the task.

    Here is an excerpt of one of those conversations, from February 2011, translated from Kinyarwanda into English. They are discussing a supposed South African intelligence officer who had contacts among the dissidents’ bodyguards – but Col. Munyuza doesn’t realize that the South African officer is a fiction. Their later reference to ‘the superior’ is General Nyamwasa.

    Dan Munyuza: “….if he agrees to do it, then that means he’s able to carry it out. He could figure out those closest to the bodyguards and do it with them.”

    Robert Higiro: “…at that point he could tell me how we could organize it all. But it depends on what we want, like I was telling you.”

    Dan Munyuza: “…no, it’s up to him to tell us how he wants to do it. He needs to propose two ways and we’ll choose one that has fewer consequences.”

    Robert Higiro: “…..he is waiting to see whether we are serious and whether we have an idea of how the job could be executed.”

    Dan Munyuza: “….what are you thinking of…isn’t it using a weapon to do it? And to make sure it’s done by our man? If he could kill two birds with one stone and eliminate them both at once, he could earn more.”

    Robert Higiro: “What’s that?”

    Dan Munyuza: “…if it isn’t possible to do both, then it would be good to get rid of the superior.”

    Robert Higiro: “You’re saying…”

    Dan Munyuza: “…It would be great to get rid of them both at the same time, but if that’s not possible even (getting) one alone, the enemy would be weakened.”

    Robert Higiro: “…ok, I’ll tell them that our priority is to eliminate both, but that if there’s only a chance of getting one, the focus should be on the superior.” (Return to your place in the story.)




    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera is a Rwandan opposition leader based in Belgium. He has been the Secretary General of the United Democratic Forces since it was founded in 2006. Uhuruspirit editor Comrade Hilary Ojukwu contacted him earlier today to seek his views over many issues, including the recent assassination of the former Rwandan Intelligence Chief. Below are extracts from the interview.

    Uhuruspirit: Please, tell us more about your movement.

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: Our movement the United Democratic Forces, better known by its French acronym FDU-Inkingi was launched in 2006. We fight for a non-ethnic, non-sexist, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Rwanda. Rwandans cannot continue to live under successive ethnic dictatorships, marked by ethnic exclusion, suppression of basic freedoms and exploitation of the people by a clique linked to Western capitalists. It’s a recurrent problem that started before colonialism. Since July 1994, the Hutu ethnic majority is treated like outcasts by the ruling clique around Paul Kagame. But the Tutsi minority is also denied basic freedoms. FDU-Inkingi was created to mobilize all Rwandans to achieve change.

    Our movement was born in exile, in Brussels, in April 2006. After four years of preparations, FDU-Inkingi chairperson Cde Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza went to Rwanda in January 2010 to set the necessary preparations for registration of our movement as a legal political party and later participate in the presidential elections slated for August 2010. The regime arrested her and threw her behind bars on fabricated charges in October 2010. She was convicted to 8 year jail term. In December 2013, that sentence was increased to 15 years on appeal by the Supreme Court. Many other local cadres have been arrested several times and some of them are still in jail while others were forced to flee the country.

    Apart from the Chairperson, the rest of the leaders remained in exile, in Europe and North America. The movement is currently led by the First Vice Chair Eugene Ndahayo who is based in Lyon, in France. There is a splinter faction led by the Second Vice Chairman Nkiko Nsengimana who rebelled against the leadership of the movement in February 2011. Attempts to bring them back on track have not yet yielded fruits.

    FDU-Inkingi has entered into coalition with other opposition groups. In March 2013, we formed together with two other organizations a front called ‘National Council for Democratic Change’ chaired by Gen. Emmanuel HABYARIMANA, former defence minister in Paul Kagame’s government. He fled to Uganda to save his life in 2003. Later he relocated to Switzerland where he still lives.

    Uhuruspirit: What was your reaction when you heard about the killing of Col. Patrick Karegeya?

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: We were shocked but not surprised. The ruling clique led by Gen. Paul Kagame kills real or perceived opponents regularly and murder is a usual tool of control for them. In fact, when Paul Kagame took over the leadership of the ruling Rwandese Patriotic Front, he killed his predecessors Maj. Peter Bayingana and Major Chris Bunyenyezi. Since then, the list of his victims is endless. It’s widely known that he killed his predecessor President Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprian Ntaryamira, all their collaborators and its French crew when his jet was hit by missiles while attempting to land on Kigali International Airport on April 6, 1994. In December 1995, he assassinated former RPF MP Col. Theoneste LIZINDE and a businessman named BUGIRIMFURA in Nairobi, Kenya. In May 1998, Seth SENDASHONGA the first post-genocide minister of interior was shot dead by a squad in broad daylight at a round-about near UN Headquarters in Nairobi. Two year before, he had escaped murder by one Francis Mugabo, a Rwandan diplomat posted in Rwanda’s embassy in Nairobi. He was caught red handed with a brazen pistol at the scene of murder.

    André Kagwa RWISEREKA, Vice President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda was found beheaded in a swamp near Butare town in Rwanda, two months before presidential elections in 2010. The same year, former Chief of Staff Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa was gunned by survived his injuries after killers linked to Kigali tried to kill him in Johannesburg, South Africa. Independent journalists are not spared. One Jean-Leonard Rugambage who was investigating the murder was shot dead at his gate by unknown assaillants. Charles Ingabire, a journalist of online publication ‘Inyenyeri News’ was killed by gunmen in a Kampala suburb. And this list can go on and on …

    Uhuruspirit: The Rwandan National Congress (RNC), of which the former intelligence chief was a member, has accused the government of President Paul Kagame of being responsible for the murder. Do you think there is any merit in their case?

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: I think there’s no doubt Paul Kagame has a hand in his murder. He once said in parliament that he wouldn’t hesitate “to kill a fly with a hammer”.

    Uhuruspirit: The South African Police Services are busy investigating the matter. What kind of reaction do you expect from President Jacob Zuma’s government should it be confirmed that Paul Kagame’s government had something to do with this cowardly and irresponsible murder?

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: South Africa is a democratic country. It is led by revolutionaries who fought against an entrenched racist government. Rwanda’s current regime is an apartheid-like autocracy. This regime exports violence in the Great Lakes region where it’s repeatedly fabricated proxy militias to destabilize the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where South African troops are deployed. We think that it’s high time that the South African government realized the nature of Paul Kagame’s government and its unrelenting aggressions on the continent.

    Uhuruspirit: What is your party’s position on how to resolve the Rwandan crisis in order to have genuine stability?

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: Paul Kagame must go! And the sooner the better. His tools of repression, the army, police and intelligence services must be shaken and reformed. An all-inclusive national transitional government must be put in place to repatriate exiled Rwandans, conduct constitutional reforms and hold democratic elections. Paul Kagame will not accept negotiations with opposition groups, unless he’s forced to do so by all legitimate means. That’s the message he sent to the Rwandan people, to the region, the continent and the world by killing Col. Patrick Karegeya. He must be arrested and tried.

    Uhuruspirit: Do you think that the conflict between the DRC government and M23 rebels is now over after the recent signing of an agreement in Kenya?

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: The M23 was a cover for covert RDF operations in DRC. Since the reasons of its creation where not addressed, war can resume any time. Let me remind you that the M23 wasn’t the first proxy militia created by Paul Kagame’s government. It was preceded by the CNDP led by renegade officer Laurent Nkunda. Before that back in 1998, Paul Kagame used another proxy movement called RCD-Goma. As long as the Rwandan conflict is not resolved, Paul Kagame will continue to destabilize the region because his thinks that he must pre-emptively destabilize all potential or perceived neighbors who might provide support to the opposition. They will never have peace as long as Paul Kagame and his sectarian clique are in power.

    Uhuruspirit: Thank you so much sir for your time.

    Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: Thank you for the opportunity.



    • Kagame: We’re not hunting down defectors

      Rwandan President Paul Kagame fielding questions at The Governors’ Summit 2014 at Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha on January 20, 2014 where he gave an interview on a wide range of issues, including the assassination of Rwandan defectors living in exile. PHOTO/SULEIMAN MBATIAH

      In less than three months, Rwanda will be marking 30 years after the genocide. How is the reconciliation process going?

      It’s going very well. Simply put, there is no way our country would have made such significant progress without people’s involvement.

      Secondly, they would not have worked together without overcoming the challenges that have been there. At the beginning, we had almost the entire population of the country displaced.

      The psychology of it was that they did not know what to hold onto. We had to get involved in trying to pick the pieces. It is this soul searching, people finding ways they can work together that has brought us this far.

      Did Gacaca courts produce the results you desired?

      The Gacaca courts were designed to achieve twin objectives. One is for the wider population to see that justice is done.

      The second is to ensure justice while allowing the country to get back together because one tends to affect the other. The two tend to conflict and Gacaca very well serves the purpose. Thousands have been able to go through the process and go back to their villages.

      Did the ICTR produce anything you regard useful for the country?

      It’s a very difficult question by the fact that it has very many aspects to it. One, the fact that the UN is associated with a process where some form of justice is carried out is important.

      But that is different from the quality of the process, which I think is where the problem really lies. There’s a lot of wastage of resources.

      The cases that have been successfully tried are a handful — less than 60and billions have been used. It served those involved in the process rather than those who wanted to see justice done.

      Some observers said you were not optimistic about the process

      I think there are very good reasons.

      There are cases that take so many years. The other is witnesses, where people created an atmosphere of silence and at times using interpreters who have relatives who are being tried. It doesn’t make sense.

      Has this informed your position on the ICC?

      It’s the totality of it. You cannot have a justice system that acts universally in the interests of some people and are silent on other people’s interests. You find that it is designed to deal with certain cases.

      The counter argument is that it’s about the victims. I’m saying that the totality of it ends up presenting a case of injustice rather than justice.

      What progress has your government made in tracing Felicine Kabuga who is accused of funding the genocide?

      We are not able as a government to be the ones to trace him.

      It requires the collaboration of the entire international system and still that has not given us good results. You have heard of the US government putting in money and the ICTR involved in cases of tracking.

      We have been talking to different governments in the continent and we are not any closer to putting him where he belongs. It’s still a mystery how he manages to disappear into thin air.

      A number of times it has come up that he is in Kenya

      Yes, a number of times we have talked to administrations. It’s a very long time since this came up but we never got to know whether he was here or somebody was covering up for him….we never got to know the truth.

      Is he in Kenya?

      I would really be guessing. I’m not confortable making any assertions without facts.

      As part of reconciliation, a new initiative called mass apology was started by a youth group and you supported it. Tell us about that

      It is something that came under what we call Ndumunyarwanda.

      In which case Rwandans look at their history and merge with the commitment to ourselves and our future that whoever did anything wrong needs a chance to contribute to a better future then so be it. It has done very well.

      But critics say it is wrong to get the Hutu to apologise to the Tutsi as it amounts to victimising one group

      You see it is not anything that is being forced. It is an idea that came up from the people themselves. It’s something voluntary. Nobody has been held responsible for being silent.

      Isn’t it a bit odd that people who were not responsible in any way like your Prime Minister come to apologise

      I think critics should take more time to analayse what they are talking about.

      People need to take time to listen to what he’s saying. He was saying that “this should not have happened in my name”.

      There are people who used his name and he gave many examples of what he knows when he was in school and in the work place. First of all he is doing it voluntarily. He’s saying that people should not do things in the name of a group.

      Don’t you think it throws a blanket of guilt over one group?

      In an open society there are two things that stand out, one is the right of the minority. But the majority also have a right. And it reflects the desire of the society. Critics could also have said that silence doesn’t help. You have to choose how to proceed. As far I have seen nobody has been hurt about it.

      What’s your assessment of how long it will take before reconciliation matures?

      I think there is a foundation. We are more or less standing in a very good position but we need to keep building institutions and developing the mindset. These kinds of situations take very long to heal and it takes long to stabilise. There are cases that have lived for close to a 100 years.

      In your address to the governors, among the many things you said is that it is easy to measure economic development but difficult to measure democratic development. What would you say of Rwanda’s democratic development in the last 20 years?

      By far we have made huge progress. Twenty years ago there was nothing to talk about and that is why the tragedy was there.

      In learning lessons of our own history, I’m comfortable that progress has been made in all directions. We are not where we want to be or need to be. We still need to work very hard.

      Tell us about Rwanda’s situation particulary in 2017. Will you retire as per the constitution?

      First, I don’t think it is about one individual. I know I have become a subject of discussion but someone needs to deflect it to the actual situation. Elections mean the feelings and the choices of people.

      Sometimes you may run the danger of questioning the choices of people because they make a choice and you say you should not have made that choice. This is why I have become uncomfortable answering this question because in any case I’m not satisfying anybody.

      Will you leave when the time comes?

      You are saying that as if the constitution falls from heaven. It’s made by people. The fact that the constitution is in place means that this is what the people put in place.

      The question is how has this changed? It changed because the same people changed it and made it so. Whether I’m going or not should not preoccupy people. Time passes and we will come to know what will happen.

      To those who insist on this question, you say wait and see?

      Yes, let’s wait and see. What will happen will happen.

      The other day, you said treason has consequences. Some people drew conclusions about what happened in South Africa to Patrick Karegeya (former Rwandan director of external intelligence who defected and was found murdered in a hotel recently)

      Am I not supposed to say what I want to say? I said many things in a religious context. Somebody can take anything out of context.

      By betraying a cause and a people, why should it not have consequences?

      When you betray the government, you betray the people of Rwanda. The fact that these people live in exile has consequences. They are not at peace.

      Many of them tend to die. People die but these same people who die, die from different causes. These Karegeyas and other belong to an organisation that has been killing people in Rwanda. There’s evidence. A mountain of evidence.

      So it is not agents of the Rwanda government that track these people down and kill them?

      Not that I know of. But I have evidence that they have been involved in activities that have killed Rwandans. That’s what I have proof for.



  3. PRETORIA, South Africa — The death of a former Rwandan spy chief in South Africa has renewed opposition claims that Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, is orchestrating the killings of political dissidents – allegations denied by the Rwandan government.

    Patrick Karegeya, the 53-year-old former head of Rwanda’s foreign intelligence service, was found dead on New Year’s Day on the bed in his room at the upscale Michelangelo Towers hotel in Johannesburg, according to South African police, who have launched a murder investigation.

    “A towel with blood and a rope were found in the hotel room safe,” said police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale in a statement Thursday. “There is a possibility that he might have been strangled.”

    The Rwanda National Congress, the opposition party Karegeya helped found, alleged in a statement Thursday that his death was one of numerous assassinations ordered by Kagame.

    “By killing its opponents, the criminal regime in Kigali seeks to intimidate and silence the Rwandan people into submission,” the statement said.

    Kayumba Nyamwasa, the former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, who like Karegeya was granted political asylum in South Africa, said he survived two assassination attempts while in exile.

    “It is not new. It is not the first time, and it is not the last,” he said of Karegeya’s death, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper. “Most of President Kagame’s political opposition are in exile or in prison or are dead.”

    The Rwandan government, as it has in the past, forcefully denied the allegations that it was behind the death. The Rwandan high commissioner in South Africa, Vincent Karega, told local broadcaster eNCA that talk of an assassination was an “emotional reaction and opportunistic way of playing politics.”

    Rene Mugenzi, a Rwandan human rights activist living in London, said he was frustrated by the international response to such killings – or rather the lack of it.

    “This is a very sad day, but it’s not new for Rwandans,” said Mugenzi, adding that he was informed by British authorities in 2011 that he too could be a target. “What is very frustrating, what is making me angry, is that the international community, the United Nations, the African Union, they have had information about what the Rwandan government is doing, but there has not been any condemnation.”

    Martin Rupiya, executive director of the Pretoria-based African Public Policy and Research Institute, said he wasn’t surprised.

    “Both the international community and African countries continue to feel that not enough was done in support of Rwandans during the genocide,” Rupiya said. “So explicit condemnation has been tempered because of that context.”

    Still, he said, “If the evidence proves to be correct, then a very firm stand must be taken.”

    Karegeya, a bespectacled man with a slight frame, reportedly fled to South Africa in 2007 after being jailed for insubordination and desertion, stripped of his rank as colonel and accused of plotting a coup with Nyamwasa.

    Both men fought with Kagame in Rwanda’s 1994 war, which brought a stop to the genocide by ethnic Hutu extremists that killed more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

    In exile, Karegeya and Nyamwasa formed the Rwanda National Congress. The Rwandan government issued international arrest warrants for the men in 2011. A military court convicted them in absentia on charges of promoting tribal divisions and threatening state security.



    • How the former Rwandan spymaster was assassinated

      Patrick Karegeya was found dead in a Johannesburg hotel. PHOTO | BBC

      In Kigali, where he owns a $1 million sophisticated theatre located at Nyamirambo suburb known as Cine Star Cinema. The man is known as humorous, down to earth and intelligent, one of Rwanda’s emerging entrepreneurs.

      But behind the scenes, Apollo Gafaranga, a man accused of killing former Rwanda’s spymaster Patrick Karegeya in Johannesburg’s Sandton Michelangelo Hotel on New Year’s eve, is more than a businessman – he is a trained spy and assassin, if the latest details emerging from Johannesburg are authentic.

      According to South Africa’s weekly investigative newspaper, Mail& Guardian, Gafaranga befriended Karegeya about four years ago whereby the alleged hit-man cultivated his relationships with the former Rwandan head of external security to the level where the latter hosted him in his house in Johannesburg.

      But, little did Karegeya know that his friend was in actual sense the biggest enemy who was on a mission to assassinate him.

      To conceal his identity, Gafaranga is believed to have acquired a South African passport, which he used whenever he entered South Africa, according to the Mail & Guardian report.

      But, according to the newspaper, the passport may have been a fake one. It’s not clear why South African authorities failed to detect the allegedly fake passport that Mr Gafaranga used to enter into the country several times via Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport.

      The Mail & Guardian, quoting some close relatives of the assassinated former spymaster, reported that in most cases when Gafaranga used the South African passport, he didn’t travel direct from Rwanda.

      If Karegeya’s friends and colleagues are correct, reported the Mail & Guardian yesterday, it would indicate an intelligence failure on the part of South African authorities.

      “Political asylum seekers such as Karegeya claim the South African authorities had offered them protection. Meanwhile, an alleged agent of the Paul Kagame regime was frequently in their midst, evading airport security checks with false documents, and courting their inner circle with a view to commit murder,” the Mail & Guardian reported.

      Rwanda’s ambassador to South Africa Vincent Karega, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, distanced Kigali from Karageya’s death.

      “Even though he (Karageya) declared himself an enemy of Rwanda, we didn’t see any threat. Rwanda wasn’t involved,” he said.

      So far no anyone has been arrested by the South African authorities.

      ‘Business mogul’

      But, within the Rwandan political-refugee community living in South Africa, there is one clear suspect involved in Karegeya’s crime: a man called Apollo Gafaranga.

      The Rwandan press call him a “business mogul”; he opened a cinema worth $1 million in 2009. His brother, Mr Amini Gafaranga, appears close to the Kagame regime, speaking at Rwanda Day celebrations in London in May 2013, an event endorsed by Paul Kagame.

      Two close friends of Karegeya, who spoke to the Mail & Guardian, claimed Gafaranga had spent years earning the former spy chief’s trust, travelling to South Africa on at least four occasions, where he would be Kareyega’s house guest.

      And he always travelled with fake documents, they claim.

      But on his final and fatal visit, Gafaranga asked to be booked in a hotel, instead of staying at Karegeya’s house.

      According to Mail & Guardian, this was because he was increasingly fearful of the Kagame regime, Gafaranga claimed, and he told Karegeya he did not want to jeopardize his friend’s security by staying in his house.

      Up to this point, the former Rwanda spymaster-turned-enemy of the Kigali regime didn’t notice any hidden motive.

      Kareyega then booked the hotel room at the Michelangelo Towers in Sandton. Karegeya picked his guest upon his arrival and drove him to the hotel where he booked him. That was December 29, according to South African media reports.

      The two arrived at the Sandton Hotel, checked in and later on Karegeya left his friend, promising to visit him on the New Year for further political and business discussions.

      On New Year’s eve, Karegeya went to visit his friend, without knowing that would be his end, because the man he thought was a friend and a possible financier in his bid to defeat the Rwandan regime was indeed a trained assassin.

      Karegeya had no reason to be suspicious of Gafaranga because the latter had been part of Karegeya’s informal network of informants during his tenure as head of external intelligence in Kagame’s government.

      And now, it’s likely Karegeya believed he was helping a fellow-oppositionist escape Kigali.

      “It’s not unreasonable to help those escaping Rwanda,” said Mr Frank Ntwali, Africa regional chairperson of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), the opposition party that Karegeya helped to form.

      ‘Do Not Disturb’

      Karegeya had earlier informed his nephew that he was going to visit his friend, Gafaranga, at Michelangelo Towers Hotel. On the New Year eve when Kareyega did not respond to text messages or phone calls, his nephew became suspicious and went to the hotel.

      His nephew then went to the Michelangelo, where he discovered that the hotel room where Karegeya had gone for a meeting was locked.

      The manager wouldn’t open the door as there was a “Do Not Disturb” sign on it. The police were called and opened the door.

      It is believed that three or four men were involved in the crime.

      Karegeya was found dead. Curtain tie-backs and a pillow case were found in the safe. Garafanga was gone, taking only his cellphone and wallet, but leaving his suitcase behind.

      Mr Ntwali believes Gafaranga entered South Africa from a different African country on every visit, to avoid detection.

      According to Mail & Guardian, Ntwali last saw the former spymaster on December 28, when the two had dinner and discussed their political plans for the new year. Further according to the report, Mr Karegeya was upbeat.

      At this point, the former intelligence chief was well aware that Gafaranga was en route.

      “About four months ago, he [Apollo] made contact with Patrick and claimed Kagame’s government was harassing him and had closed his business. He asked Karegeya to help him set up a new life in South Africa, and help him start a business here.” Ntwali was quoted by Mail &Guardian.

      According to another friend of Karegeya and fellow-exile, who asked not to be named for security reasons, Karegeya had protection from the South African government but asked the authorities to back off, about a year ago, because he felt his movements were too restricted.

      Ntwali confirmed this. Karegeya, according to sources, had grown complacent, despite a keen sense of persecution by Rwandan opposition leaders living in South Africa.

      Karegeya was described last week by Agency France Press as a brilliant spy who appears to have fallen foul of the assassination tactics he once reportedly practised on others.

      “He was on the watch list after fleeing to South Africa” into exile in 2007, the officer added. (READ: The spy chief who fell from grace)

      In the months prior to his death he had become increasingly nervous about his security.

      Those close to him said he must have had no reason to mistrust the person he met at the hotel where he died.

      Mr Karegeya had three children, a daughter who lives in Canada and two sons who live with his widow in the US.

      Additional reporting by AFP



    • The Rwandan spy chief who fell from grace

      Patrick Karegeya, Rwanda’s former intelligence chief found dead and believed strangled in a Johannesburg hotel, was a brilliant spy who appears to have fallen foul of the assassination tactics he once reportedly practised on others.

      “He was a person who paid attention to detail. He was articulate and intelligent,” an Ugandan intelligence officer told AFP agency, asking not to be named for fear of harming Rwanda-Uganda relations.

      “He was on the watch list after fleeing to South Africa” into exile in 2007, the officer added.

      Karegeya, who died aged 53, grew up in southwestern Uganda and studied law at Kampala’s Makerere University.

      He was “a brilliant intelligence officer and very knowledgeable,” said Major James Kazoora, a retired Ugandan army officer who served with Karegeya, noting that his “roots were in Uganda”.

      He initially served in Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA), before joining the ranks of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, then a rebel group led by Paul Kagame and now Kigali’s ruling party with Kagame the country’s president.

      Slightly plump and fond of casual clothes, Karegeya wore rimless spectacles and came across as an affable, rather than fearsome, spy.

      Karegeya was for a long time very close to President Kagame and served as head of Rwanda’s external intelligence for around a decade.

      “He works 24 hours a day,” said a friend when Karegeya was still spy chief. “He might look like he’s relaxing but he’s actually doing his job.”

      However, he fell out of favour and was demoted to army spokesman. He was later arrested and jailed for “indiscipline” and stripped of his rank of colonel in 2006.

      He fled into exile the following year and became a fierce Kagame critic and prominent member of the Rwanda National Congress, the opposition party in exile.

      “He was a very warm person and he was very comfortable with all sorts of people — he got on with absolutely everyone,” said Theogene Rudasingwa, a senior RNC official.

      ‘Extremely funny’

      He got on with Rwandan civilians and foreign diplomats alike.

      Friends and colleagues remember Karegeya for his supply of jokes, many of them full of sexual innuendo.

      “He was extremely funny,” said Rudasingwa.

      But he was also accused of having had a hand in the assassinations of Rwandan opposition figures who were killed.

      Detractors question his sincerity in criticising the Rwandan authorities, pointing out that he only spoke out against alleged abuses by Kigali once he had fallen from favour.

      The fancy cars his family drove were regularly the talk of Kigali.

      A Western diplomat, struck by the size of the giant television in Karegeya’s living room once remarked: “I’d rather be a public servant in Rwanda than in my country…”

      But in the months prior to his death he had become increasingly nervous about his security.

      Those close to him said he must have had no reason to mistrust the person he met at the hotel where he died.

      Karegeya had three children, a daughter who lives in Canada and two sons who live with his widow in the United States.



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