Rwanda’s Kagame fires slew of military officials in big shake-up

Sacking of senior commanders and officers follows appointment of new defence minister and army chief.

Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda [File: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has sacked several high-ranking military officials, a day after naming a new defence minister and army chief in a major reshuffle of the country’s security apparatus.

A statement by the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) on Wednesday said two senior commanders and 14 officers had been dismissed.

“The dismissals and rescission of service contracts take immediate effect,” it added. No reason was given for the changes.

It came a day after Kagame had announced the appointment of Juvenal Marizamunda as defence minister, replacing Albert Murasira who had served in the post since 2018.

The 58-year-old Marizamunda was previously the head of Rwanda’s correctional services and a former deputy inspector general of police.

Kagame on Tuesday had also appointed Mubarak Muganga as the new chief of defence staff, and Vincent Nyakarundi as army chief of staff, a statement from his office said.

Jean Bosco Ntibitura had also been named director general in charge of internal security in the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Changes were also made to command roles in the Rwandan force which has been deployed in Mozambique since 2021 to counter an armed campaign in the country’s north.

In its statement on Wednesday, the RDF said Major General Aloys Muganga and Brigadier General Francis Mutiganda were among those dismissed.

Muganga had been appointed commander of mechanised forces in 2019, while Mutiganda had been in charge of external security at the NISS until October 2018 when he was called back to RDF headquarters in an unspecified role, local media reports said.

In addition to the 14 other sacked officers, Kagame “also authorised the dismissal of 116 other ranks and approved the rescission 112 other ranks”, the RDF statement said.

Last week, the army of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) accused the Rwandan military and the M23 rebel group of planning to attack the eastern Congolese city of Goma.

The DRC, a United Nations group of experts and United States officials have accused Rwanda of supporting the armed group, but the Rwandan government and the rebels themselves have vigorously denied the accusations.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies