Rwanda has announced major changes in its security forces affecting high-ranking military personnel.
A statement by the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) showed President Paul Kagame had “approved the retirement of a dozen generals, 83 senior officers and six junior officers.”
The retirements were announced on Wednesday, August 30, in a statement issued by Rwanda Defence Force (RDF). Among those retired include two four-star generals, James Kabarebe and Fred Ibingira, two three-star generals, Charles Kayonga and Frank Mushyo Kamanzi.
Rwanda’s ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), recently concluded its 16th congress. This also marked 35 years of its existence.
The centre piece, however, was the election as chairman, yet again, of the country’s president Paul Kagame. With 99.9% of the votes – 2,099 of the available 2,102 votes – Kagame was re-elected and put on course to potentially run for yet another electoral term in 2024.
The constitution allows Kagame to seek re-election until 2035. That’s a long way off and he has not indicated when he would be willing to usher in a transition from himself.
He has acknowledged the need for change as he so often implores his party to reflect on change in continuity. At 65, there is no sign that he will exit the stage just yet.
Kagame who had been the driving force behind the RPF Inkotanyi’s armed wing, took over the chairmanship of the party in 1998.
Since then, he has shown himself to be a shrewd political operator, vanquishing political enemies (real and imagined). He has also built a messianic persona and a reputation for being a no-nonsense statesman.
For all these reasons he has become an international icon who is liked and loathed. In Rwanda, public sentiments are largely supportive of his legacy.
It is also clear that only Kagame will decide at a time of his own choosing when to exit the political stage. As a long-term researcher and author on Rwanda’s political transformation, I believe there are five reasons for this.
They include the role of his party in keeping him in power as well as personality traits.