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Rwanda ex-spy chief says Paul Kagame reaching 'breaking point'

Rwanda election coverage is stirring up some interesting interviews in the local press, with some issuing war calls against President Paul Kagame.

By Jason StearnsGuest blogger / August 6, 2010

A young girl passes by posters of Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the capital Kigali, Rwanda, on Aug. 6 during a rally for the upcoming presidential elections on Aug. 9. Many independent observers expect Kagame and his ruling RPF party to win with a big margin due to a lack of serious political opposition in the country.

Marc Hofer/AP

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Rwanda heads to the polls Aug. 9, and while there may not be much suspense about the outcome of the elections, there have been several interesting interviews in the press recently.

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The Ugandan Observer ran an interview with former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya – the headline was "Exiled Rwandan Colonel Calls for War on Kagame," and here is the important quote:

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.

There are other interesting points in the interview, for example where Karegeya more or less confirms that assassinations of political opponents were carried out under his leadership of external intelligence between 1994 and 2004. The interviewer asked about the killings of Colonel Lizinde and Seth Sendashonga in Nairobi, to which he answers:

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.

Kagame's response to the interview: "Those who want war, we'll give them war and they will regret it."

Then there was the interview in The Independent with the former head of Laurent Kabila's presidential guard, Francis Gakwerere. He was arrested after the assassination attempt against Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa – he has an interesting version of the story. According to him, Kayumba's driver was in prison with him, and he alleged that a Rwandan official called Dr. Ndahiro had promised him $2,000 to kill Kayumba.

Gakwerere responds:

The story sounded suspicious to me. First, I understood him to be referring to Dr. Emmanuel Ndahiro, the head of the National Security Services. So I asked him if he knew this Ndahiro and he said no. I asked if he had ever met him. He said no. I asked if he knows his voice, he said he has never seen him or heard him speak. So I asked him why he believed that it was Dr. Ndahiro. He said he simply trusted.

Second, this story of killers coming into the house at night all sounded phony. You cannot want to kill someone, have him in the best place (his home) best location (his bedroom), best time (at night) and in the best situation (when he is asleep) and just walk away and wait to do it at a shopping mall, in broad daylight and in front of many people. What type of killers are these? They must be amateurs!

Interesting time. In other related news, it seems that the South African High Commissioner to Rwanda has left Kigali in the ongoing diplomatic row over the Kayumba hit.

--- Jason Stearns blogs at Congo Siasa.

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