A new Order issued by President Paul Kagame as Commander-in-Chief of the Rwanda Defense Forces sets the exact number of years that senior army officer will be in their appointments.
The top officers concerned are the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chiefs of Staff, the Deputy Chiefs of Staff and the Inspector General.
This and many other issues about the RDF are covered in the “Presidential Order establishing special statute governing Rwanda Defence Force” published in the national gazette this February 19.
The current Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is Gen Jean Bosco Kazura, named early November last year.
The new Presidential Order in Article 18 stipulates that: “The Chief of Defence Staff, the Chiefs of Staff, the Deputy Chiefs of Staff and the Inspector General serve a five (5) year term, renewable once.”
Before Gen Kazura, was Gen Patrick Nyamvumba, who served for six years (2013-2019) as army chief. He is currently Internal Security Minister.
Gen Nyamvumba replaced Lt Gen Charles Kayonga, who held the coveted office for three years (2010-2013). He moved to China as envoy until July last year.
Lt Gen Kayonga had taken over the CSD role from Gen James Kabarebe who was CDS for 8 years (2002-2010), before being elevated to Defence Minister. He is now Defense and Security Advisor to President Kagame.
However, the two term duration for the highlighted senior military officers is not automatic. Article 19 outlines the reasons for their “termination of office”.
One of the two reasons is “upon decision by the President of the Republic and Commander-in Chief of RDF”, who is President Kagame in this case.
The other reason for these top Generals to leave office is “at the expiry of term of office”.
From now on, therefore, the Order means no CDS and others in same category, will hold that office for more than 10 years.
The other detail in the President Order is military medals. The highest medal is “Defence Order of Honour”.
The criteria for getting this medal reads: “The Defence Order of Honour Medal is the highest medal awarded in the Rwanda Defence Force to a serving or retired member who made an extraordinary endeavor of supreme value to the nation, recognized as such by relevant authority.”