In a surprising move, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has given his seal of approval for the retirement of a dozen high-ranking army generals amidst growing concerns over potential coup attempts. This decision comes in the wake of a successful coup that ousted President Ali Bongo’s longstanding regime in Gabon.
President Kagame, who has held the reins of Rwanda for an impressive 29 years, making him one of the continent’s longest-serving leaders, assumed power in 1994 in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, a position he has retained since then.
The retirement of these 12 generals was formally announced through a statement issued by the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) on Wednesday. This development coincided with the news of the coup d’état in Gabon, where Bongo was ousted from his presidency by a military junta.
The list of retirees includes high-ranking figures, such as two four-star generals, James Kabarebe and Fred Ibingira, as well as two three-star generals, Charles Kayonga and Frank Mushyo Kamanzi. Kabarebe and Kayonga, both of whom have previously held the role of Chief of Defence Staff of the RDF, bring with them a wealth of experience. Kabarebe, in particular, had served as the defense minister in the past and currently occupies the position of Senior Presidential Advisor on Defence and Security. Kamanzi has transitioned into the role of Rwanda’s Ambassador to Russia.
Five Major Generals have also been affected by this wave of retirements, namely Martin Nzaramba, Eric Murokore, Augustin Turagara, Charles Karamba, and Albert Murasira. Three Brigadier Generals, Chris Murari, Didace Ndahiro, and Emmanuel Ndahiro, round off the list of those who have exited the armed forces.
The presidential decree encompassed a broader retirement plan, including the approval of retirement for 83 senior officers, six junior officers, and 86 senior non-commissioned officers. Furthermore, 678 individuals whose contracts had reached their conclusion and 160 medical discharges were also sanctioned.
As speculations abound regarding the underlying motives for this mass retirement of high-ranking military personnel, Rwanda and the international community are closely watching for any potential aftershocks, especially considering the ongoing instability in the neighboring nation of Gabon.