Kigali, Rwanda- on Wednesday, Cabinet chaired by President Kagame approved the retirement of 79 soldiers, including 33 commissioned officers.
In a rare move, Kagame sent home several military generals citing age limit to serve in the Rwanda Defence Forces.
Though cabinet deliberations indicated that the army officers have been relieved from the army due to their age limit to serve in the Rwanda Defence forces, according to the law, a soldier can be retired on other grounds other than age.
The retired generals include, former Air force chief, Lt Gen Charles Muhire, Former Western Province division Commander Brig. Gen Wilson Gumisiriza who has been under house arrest, former Northern province Commander Brig Gen. Gashaija.
Also sent home are Brig Gen. Andrew Rwigamba, Brig Gen. Steven Karyango. Though the list is still kept and classified as ‘confidential’ in military circles, our security sources say Four-star-General Marcel Gatsinzi, the former Minister of Defence who later appointed as the Minister of Refugees and disaster preparedness has also been relieved from the army.
Former Marines chief Col. Bayingana Philemon, Col. Diogène Mudenge and Col. Kazungu have been also sent home.
According to the RDF statute, retirement age is 55 years for a General Officer (highest ranking category), 50 for a Senior Officer (middle category), and 45 for a junior officer or senior non commissioned officer.
Though defence analysts say that RDF statute is entirely theoretical, only few elements of the law are implemented.
The retirement of some of these senior officers has long been overdue since it had become impossible to deploy them. Analysts who follow closely RDF issues say that President Kagame has finally solved problems relating to top officers like Lt Gen Muhire and Brig Gumisiriza who lost their command positions accused of indiscipline cases and served time under house arrest. This is because since such officers where never tried in military court, their legal status has always been in limbo.
Also it is reported that many officers particularly those who have accumulated wealth were always keen to retire to join the business world.
This is the most significant retirement of senior officers since about a decade ago when General Kagame sent home most of the RPA historical high command.