Rwanda, Cameroon Sit-tight Leaders Announce Major Changes In Security Forces Amid Wave Of Coups In Africa

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Following the military coup that sacked President Ali Bongo from power in Gabon, Rwanda and Cameroon on Wednesday announced major changes in their security forces.

The development affected high-ranking military personnel, Anadolu Agency reports.

At least 678 soldiers were retired after their contracts ended while 160 others were discharged on medical grounds, by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda while promotions of a number of young soldiers in the country’s security apparatus were followed.

The President also appointed new generals to head army divisions stationed in different parts of the country.

According to the statement by the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF), Kagame “approved the retirement of a dozen generals, 83 senior officers and six junior officers.” He also authorized the retirement of 86 senior non-commissioned officers, the statement said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kagame also promoted a number of young officers to the rank of colonel and appointed new generals to head military divisions.

The report noted that many members of the old guard who fought in Rwanda’s liberation war in 1994 such as Gen. James Kabarebe, Gen. Fred Ibingira, and Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga were among those retired.

Both Kabarebe and Kayonga previously served as chief of defense staff of the Rwandan army during separate periods.

Others retired included Lt. Gen. Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, who is Rwanda’s ambassador to Russia, and Maj. Gen. Albert Murasira, a former defense minister.

In June, Kagame appointed Juvenal Marizamunda as defense minister, replacing Albert Murasira, who had served in the post since 2018.

Kagame has been in office since April 2000. Following the 2017 poll in which Kagame was re-elected for a seven-year tenure, Human Rights Watch released evidence of irregularities by election officials including forcing voters to write their votes in full view and casting votes for electors who had not appeared.

In Cameroon, President Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, also made new appointments at the Defense Ministry’s central administrative unit, according to a decree made public on social media.

Biya has ruled as the President of Cameroon since November 6, 1982, having previously been Prime Minister of Cameroon from 1975 to 1982.

With the latest coup in Gabon on Wednesday, Africa has experienced eight coups over the last three years, since August 2020.

On July 26, 2023, the military in Niger Republic announced that they had overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced on August 10 its intention to deploy a regional force to “restore constitutional order”, while continuing to favour the diplomatic route.

The military proposes a transition period of “three years” maximum before returning power to civilians.

In Burkina Faso, there were two putsches in 8 months. On January 24, 2022, President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was ousted from power by the military, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was inaugurated president in February.

On September 30, Damiba was in turn dismissed from his position by the military, and Captain Ibrahim Traoré became the transitional president until a presidential election scheduled for July 2024.

On October 25, 2021, in Sudan, soldiers led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane drove out the transitional civilian leaders, who were supposed to lead the country towards democracy after 30 years of dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed in 2019.

Since April 15, 2023, a war due to a power struggle between General Burhane and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdane Daglo has killed thousands of people in the country.

In Guinea, on September 5, 2021, President Alpha Condé was overthrown by a military coup. On October 1, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya became president.

The military has promised to return the place to elected civilians by the end of 2024.

Also in Mali, two coups came up in nine months. On August 18, 2020, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was overthrown by the military, a transitional government was formed in October.

But on May 24, 2021, the military arrested the president and the Prime Minister, Colonel Assimi Goïta was inaugurated in June as transitional president.

The junta has committed to returning the place to civilians after the elections scheduled for February 2024.

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