President Kagame shuffled his military top brass, making General James Kabarebe (left) his new Minister of Defense. Lt Gen Charles Kayonga has replaced Kabarebe as the Chief of Defense Staff, undermining rumors that he had been placed under house arrest. Other important nominations are the promotion of Gen Caesar Kayizari to become commander of the land forces. Another appointment for Congo watchers will be of interest: Colonel Dan Munyuza (below right) has been appointed as head of military intelligence, a powerful position. Munyuza was key, albeit junior, character during the first Congo war, and people say that Laurent Kabila used to stay in his house in Kigali in the run-up to the war. When Kabila arrived in Kinshasa, Munyuza helped run the Rwandan intelligence services in the capital for a while.
A relative cipher – Colonel Gatete Karuranga (who did a brief training at Fort Leavenworth a few years back) is now the Director General of External Intelligence. He was previously the head of the Maintenance Battalion. (picture below)
It’s hard to say what these changes mean. Usually, the minister of defense job has been a marginal one, with both Gen Gatsinzi and his predecessor Gen Habyarimana being relatively weak. That will probably change now that Kabarebe, a key figure in the security establishment, has taken over.