August 25, 2014 / 2:23 PM / 3 years ago

Rwanda arrests army officer over security threat - paper

KIGALI, Aug 25 (Reuters) - A Rwandan army officer suspected of “crimes against state security” has been arrested, the third such detention in about a week, a Rwandan newspaper and an army official said on Monday.

President Paul Kagame and government officials have talked of plots against the state in the past year by opponents, including the exiled opposition groups, some of whose members were former top security officers.

Officials have given few details about the plots.

Rwandan Defence Force Colonel Tom Byabagamba was arrested on Saturday shortly after returning from a tour of duty in South Sudan where Rwanda contributes soldiers to a U.N. peacekeeping mission, the New Times reported.

It was not clear if the latest arrests were linked to exiled opponents.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Joseph Nzabamwita told Reuters the report by the newspaper, which is seen as close to government opinion, was accurate but provided no more comment.

Byabagamba was being questioned, the New Times quoted Nzabamwita as saying. It did not give details about the investigation.

South Africa has accused Rwanda of launching attacks against exiled opponents on its soil, including the New Year’s Eve murder in a Johannesburg hotel of former Rwandan spy chief Patrick Karageya.

Rwanda’s government has denied being behind the attacks but Kagame said “traitors” should expect consequences. Those remarks and similar ones by other Rwandan officials have fuelled Western and South African suspicions about Kigali’s role.

Analysts say such comments suggest the government’s main security concerns are about possible dissent inside the ranks of the military and security forces, possibly stoked by former officials abroad who still have security links.

There is limited vocal political opposition to Kagame inside Rwanda, which rights groups blame on an overbearing state.

Kagame has been president since 2003 and power behind the throne since his Rwandan Patriotic Army marched into Kigali in 1994 to halt the killings that mainly targeted Kagame’s own Tutsi group. He has not ruled out running in 2017 for a third term, although that would require a change in the constitution.

Reporting by Jenny Clover; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Edmund Blair and Alison Williams

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