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.

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

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.     

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

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.

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

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.  

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.

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.

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

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 Kabareebe] 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.      

How do you explain the mysterious death of Col. Rezinde 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?

It is not only Col. Rezinde 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.

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?

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.


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

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.    

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

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.

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.


0 #1 Mike 2010-08-03 04:55
Karegyeya please first seek for medical treatment.
You know what iam saying. Ok

Iam sure the disease has reached your brain.Jya wirinda gupfa utanduranije

Can you really fight?
0 #2 Greg Jordan 2010-08-03 05:46
It's sad to see that he has fought for a liberation of Rwanda and the Rwanda is not liberated yet.
Hence he is still a refugee and hunted on the top of that.
It's time that he takes also international community as a witness.He has failed to do so.He has to conduct the same interview on CNN, BBC,CNBC,France 24,..Etc
The whole world has to know what is happening in Rwanda.
+1 #3 TWARABIMENYE 2010-08-03 06:35
In Kinyarwanda we says : (NTIBIZOROHA)
(It's not easy)
We are behind of you dear Karegeya.
0 #4 criss 2010-08-03 06:40
Kagame and his Rwanda will soon reveal themselves!! you see when we read things like these, we comment and stand a side and watch and critiseze and chart up in pubs! whn it happens to you!1 who is loughing now? so there goes the story of Rwanda!one by one my dear frines, last night Karegeya, Kayumba etc and today Great comments above
0 #5 maria 2010-08-03 07:19
Karegeya, your a great man.
One could say your the Nelson Mandela of Rwanda..or soon to be:-)
Contineu what your doing, for your country!!

I'm sure your family is very proud of you;-)
-1 #6 Cristi 2010-08-03 07:22
Hahahahaha. Karegeya thinks he is too big and that he is needed by Rwandans. As a wake up call, he should attend RPF campaigns and see the enthusiasm of the citizens. Then he will understand that he is a nobody in the Rwandan political scene. Rwandese know what they want, and they've shown it throughout these campaigns.
0 #7 Brain 2010-08-03 08:45
there should be some political sanity in all these harassments.intolerence,vic timization due to fearing the unknown in Rwanda are prevalent. may be one should seek advice from charles Taylor when he is before sebutinde how he feels and if he had known.
0 #8 observer 2010-08-03 09:50
what you think and you may do keep in mind the peace of Rwandans. Rwandans nolonger need to shade more blood & you share with me this view.whaever, transition you may think about keep in mind about that.
0 #9 DAVID 2010-08-03 10:19
Karegyeya and his renegade likes a la Kayumba Nyamwasa,Theoge ne Rudasingwa et al should recall the English addage that goes,"once you make your bed,you should lay in it".

For starters,having worked with him for over two decades,Nyamwas a,Karegeya et al know Paul Kagame more than the Mukombozis in the journalism fraternity.Otherwise,is Karegyeya(whate ver the spelling is) trying to tell the world that Kagame became a dictator in 2006 after having stockaded him and even stripped him of his senior rank(of colonel)????!!!!!

I am not condoning the ills and excesses of Kagame but the fact is these fellas now crying foul are the very ones who've been oiling what they regard as their boss's dictatorship and they only come to realise it when they're at odds with him!!!!!!

If Karegeya is sincere from the bottom of his heart,why didn't he use his "good offices" then as ESO boss in the RPF/A government to investigate and later publish the circumstances under which Col Rezinde and Minister Sendashonga were assasinated abroad by suspected RPA operatives?????!!!!!

Why does he need to wait for either his fall out with Kagame or the fall of the RPF regime in order to spill the beans????.Really,was he offering a service to the Rwandese????

So my advise to the likes of such characters is that let them eat humble pie,by going back to their boss and apologise or face serious humiliation for their errors.During their official tenures,they also made quite a number of hapless Rwandese cry and so in the same development,let them also cry.
0 #10 Jimmy 2010-08-03 10:23
It is hard to know whether this is true or not? or even how much of it is true. Ntibizoroha. These people fought for Rwanda's liberation but things are still blurry. Issues should be resolved before we, the next generation, get involved.
0 #11 Alex 2010-08-03 10:33
please,why all that fuse for power? there many other things to do than leadership! what u have to know is that we are told of wars and enough is enough!! if u wanna fight, please go to somaria but dont dare bring it in Rda!!!
0 #12 Ejokere Emukule 2010-08-03 12:40
The saying goes that a chicken will always lay an egg and not produce a living chicken or a dog produces a puppy, nurtures it to maturity bt doed not produce a kid which will grow into a goat/he-goat.

These p'ple were born in Uganda, grew up in Uganda, nurtured by someone who "suppported" them intheir war to 'liberate' Rwanda and has himself turned out to be a dictator.

Even the colonel in the article, if he were to assume power with his law background, will tread the path of his mentors. So do not cry big baby but reflect on the path u trod and suffering u caused and saw other go through silently though u knew what was going on and did nothing.
0 #13 Emily 2010-08-03 14:08
Bugesera: From telling western critics they can hang, incumbent President Kagame now says for those planning war, they had better take a second chance to think over their plans. This is after an exiled ex-spy chief said President Kagame like other ‘dictators’ don’t step down, they are ‘brought down’.

"We will fight whoever starts a war against us,” said Kagame in Bugesera district on the latest leg of his campaigns. “Rwandan must be allowed to make their choice…whoever is not happy can die of envy.”

Without singling out any specific individuals or groups, the RPF candidate said nobody will scare Rwandans with threats of war.

Ex-spy chief Col Patrick Karegeya, who is in South Africa with wounded Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, said in an interview with a Ugandan Bi-weekly The Observer that only armed rebellion would remove President Kagame.

“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,” Karegeya said.

In a firry speech – a tactic he has employed since Friday last week, President Kagame told Bugesera that critics are wrong to suggest that since everybody supports RPF, then there is no democracy in Rwanda.

"Some falsely claim that Rwanda has no democracy because everybody supports RPF," said Kagame.

"Who told them this is not democracy. If they want the truth then let them inquire from Rwandans, and residents of Bugesera in particular."

He added: "Democracy and development are twins not enemies. Each requires the other."

The President started DAY FIFTEEN of the campaign trail with a large rally at Nyabugogo here in Kigali for the morning, before he moved to Bugesera around mid-day. By press time, the RPF candidate was in Kicukiro district – also here in Kigali.
0 #14 Kangabo 2010-08-03 14:34
Mr karegeya is shaming himself. instead of mongering war in Rwanda, he should think of what he has done for the country.Except some madames he helped construct houses, nobody else knows his importances. Is it now that he remembers what he should have done to Rwandans? A great man is always proud of his deeds!!! Are you proud of yourself Karegeya?
0 #15 Margaret S. Maringa 2010-08-03 15:23
MORANI WERE NEVER DESIGNED TO BECOME PERMANENT FIXTURES IN THE BARRACKS. The time comes when even the bravest (and most patriotic) morani have to exchange their spears for the peaceful flywhisks of respectable elders.

The time surely comes when morani priorities must turn away from endless battles -- especially when they get married and start having children!!!!!

THE RACE DOES NOT GO TO THE SWIFT NOR THE BATTLE TO THE STRONG (Ecclesiates 9:11). Therefore beloved morani -- learn to forgive yourselves for not playing smarter chess around palace intrigues.

Even the mighty King Rwabugiri made a few costly bloopers that are still haunting us today!!!!!

WINNING IS NOT EVERYTHING IN LIFE: and a palace surrounded by cadavers of battle vanguished -- is not exactly smart liberation strategy.

Kwigita ti guoya -- retreating from irrational confrontations is not cowardice. On the contrary --strategic retreat is the essence of true manhood !!!!!!

CARPE DIEM -- Seize this unprecedented turn of events(no matter how painful) and move on with your personal lives.

Remember those promises whispered to GOD during our desperate struggles for basic survival.

We may have conveniently forgetten these whispers (now that our feet are finally planted on the Promised Land) but the Almighty GOD never forgets !!!!

Beloved moranis when you finally cross over this important watershed -- you will certainly become transformed into admirable leadership.

Thaaai Thaaai (peace and blessings)
0 #16 Mukazi 2010-08-03 16:23
A malcontent of a Rwandan,it is hard to believe how Rwanda remained sane with such characters like Karegeya whose want to use Rwandans to settle personal scores hinged on inflated egos.

If they were better than Kagame,then why did he supercede them to be there boss with his humble education background?

Please Karegeya,enjoy your last days in harmony.we are tired of opportunists like you.

Besides very few Rwandans can even recognise your name.
0 #17 chris 2010-08-03 16:44
i think what Karegeya is doing is very good for the people who are suffering in Rwanda. and all you guys who are against him should be quiet, at least he's doing something about it and if your complaining that he didn't help you he's doing something now and you should have done something yourself then but clearly you didn't so you haters should keep quiet!!!!!Let him do his thing.
0 #18 papi 2010-08-03 17:45
Mr. Karegeya. your firing out from RDF is still a mystery. RDF and your explanations are still unclear. We, common rwandans need peace and progress and not death traders.
0 #19 Rose Kiga 2010-08-03 18:18
Let me ask all who have got a chance to observe the situation in Rwanda currently,
Is every one free and happy with Rwandan leadership yet?
u knw state of fear??

me am tired of a country where people die,flee,jailed ,fear,corruptio n, nepotsm.
when you'rent frm noble class,forget a good job in the country.

Karegyeye shdnt think of armed struggle because Innocent people will die,
let them think of some other ways to do their mission with kagame whch doesnt injure our dear lives...
0 #20 Francis Muhoozi 2010-08-03 18:40
Col. Patrick Karegeya.

Bringing Kagame down is not only using guns. As you said in this excerpt below, let us expose this rabid dictator and you will be amased how he will fall.

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.

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