Rwanda's General "KK", a key player in the regime

23rd June 2015, Comments 0 comments

General Karenzi Karake, Rwanda's intelligence chief arrested in London on a European arrest warrant, has long been a key figure in the regime of President Paul Kagame.

Known to Rwanda's capital Kigali by his nickname "KK", 54-year-old Karake was one of the main commanders of the armed wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the Tutsi rebel group that ended the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and has held power ever since.

At least 800,000 mostly Tutsi people died in the genocide.

During the civil war that preceeded the genocide and the ensuing slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus, Karake earned a reputation for bold, clandestine military operations, and respect among rank and file soldiers.

A key figure in Rwanda's security apparatus, Karake has held a string of senior positions, including his current role as director general of the National Intelligence and Security Services.

He played a major role, alongside powerful RPF stalwart General James Kabarebe, in Rwanda's long and destructive wars in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo beginning in 1996.

A Tutsi, Karake was born in 1960 in Rwanda to a French-speaking family, and was raised in exile in refugee camps in DR Congo and Uganda, where the RPF was born.

A graduate of Uganda's Makerere University, he was also educated in South Africa, Kenya and Britain.

Charismatic and intelligent, Karake is well known among journalists and diplomats, many of whom appreciate his straight talking.

In 2008-2009, Karake was deputy commander of the United Nations-African Union Mission (UNAMID) in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

It was at this time that a Spanish judge issued an arrest warrant against him, causing renewed tensions between Rwanda and the UN, and his premature departure from the peacekeeping force.

Like many senior RPF players, Karake later fell out of favour with Kagame and in April 2010 was put under house arrest for "misbehaviour".

He was released a few months later, after he "apologised", and in mid-2011 his rehabilitation was completed when Kagame picked him as spy chief.

© 2015 AFP

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