Three top Rwandan military generals and a Colonel were yesterday suspended from the national army and placed under house arrest for alleged “indiscipline”.
Highly placed security sources told this newspaper that the quartet was earlier in the day summoned and questioned for hours by the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga.
A military radio message was afterward reportedly sent out on orders of Gen. Paul Kagame to inform all Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) commanders and troops about the officers’ alleged questionable businesses dealings with the Congolese neighbours.
As President, Gen. Kagame doubles as the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces. The officers who have been confined are Lt. Gen. Fred Ibingira, the chief of staff of the Reserve Forces; Brig. Gen. Richard Rutatina, the military intelligence chief; Brig. Gen. Wilson Gumisiriza, commander of the RDF’s 3rd Division and Col. Dan Munyuza, head of external Intelligence.
Rwandan military Spokesman, Col. Joseph Nzabamwita, last night said investigations are underway to establish the veracity of the allegations against the four accused.
“The RDF leadership suspended and placed them under hosue arrest as investigations are conducted into their suspected business dealings with civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Col. Nzabamwite said by telephone last night. “That is the indiscipline we are talking about.”
The Colonel declined to specify the questionable business engagement, but ruled out the possibility the officers could have tapped Congolese gems.
It is not clear if the accused would be tried in a military court.
Insiders say the three generals are seen within RDF ranks to have had close working relations with renegade Rwandan generals; Kayumba Nyamwasa (former High Commissioner to India) and Patrick Karegeya (former intelligence chief), both exiled in South Africa. On the other hand, Col. Munyuza had hitherto been understood to be a Kagame loyalist.
He and general Rutatina, who is also Kagame’s advisor on security matters, were both promoted to their present positions only last July.
The Rwandan army dismissed as “useless rumours” allegations that yesterday’s swift action was prompted by suspicions the officers involved in subversive activities - and not just illegal businesses with Congolese civilians. Generals Nyamwasa and Karegeya are said to head a rebel outfit with an operational base in DRC.
Nyamwasa has twice survived assassination attempts in South Africa and his wife cited the hand of Kagame’s government in the June 2010 shooting, something Kigali vehemently denied.
The runway officers are accused of plotting to topple Gen. Kagame’s regime that they accuse of being a dictatorship. The country’s intelligence agencies suspect emissaries or accomplices of the renegades could be behind the recent periodic deadly grenade attacks in the capital.
Kagame and the defectors were once close allies, but have in recent years fallen out due to differences over the country’s governance.