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Kagame reshuffles Cabinet, removes powerful Defence minister

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame has appointed new ministers while removing others including long-serving Defence Minister Gen James Kabarebe in a major reshuffle announced late Thursday.

President Kagame appointed former East African Community secretary-general Richard Sezibera as the new Foreign Affairs minister.

Mr Sezibera replaces Ms Louise Mushikiwabo who was recently elected as the secretary-general of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), the French-speaking countries bloc.

The reshuffle, which was expected with the exit of Ms Mushikiwabo, has seen some powerful ministers and heads of government institutions removed or shuffled.

Powerful defence minister Gen Kabarebe, who has served in the position since April 2010, will now take up the role of presidential advisor on security.

No reason was given his removal from the defence portfolio but his departure is seen as a significant move towards the normalisation of Rwanda’s relations with neighbouring Uganda, which have been frosty for several years.

Kigali accuses Kampala of illegally arresting Rwandans in Uganda and of harbouring dissidents.

Uganda for its part accuses Rwanda of conducting espionage in Uganda and infiltrating its security bodies.

In June, at the height of these tensions, Gen Kabarebe accused Uganda of illegally arresting and torturing Rwandans.

He also openly accused Uganda of being jealous of Rwanda’s development and warned Rwandan citizens against “scavenging” for jobs in Uganda.

Gen Kabarebe has been replaced by Gen Albert Murasira at the Defence ministry.

New faces and comebacks

Julienne Uwacu, the Sports and Culture minister, has also been removed days following her apology for the embarrassment the country suffered during an African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier match between Rwanda and Guinea after poor organisation led to the national anthems of the two countries failing to play before the start of the football game held at the Kigali Stadium.

President Kagame, who is known not to tolerate inefficiency in his government, replaced Ms Uwacu with Esperance Nyirasafari, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion.

Ms Nyirasafari has been replaced by Solina Nyirahabimana, who makes a comeback to government.

New faces in the cabinet include Soraya Hakizumuremyi who replaces Vincent Munyeshyaka as the Minister of Trade and Industry, and Paula Ingabire who takes over from Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa as ICT and Innovation minister.

President Kagame also promoted state minster of Infrastructure Germaine Kamayirese to head the renamed Ministry of Emergency Management. It was previously known as the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs.

Of the 19-member Cabinet, women hold 11 positions keeping Rwanda’s status as a global leader in gender equality.

More changes

In other major changes, President Kagame has brought back a former powerful minister he had sacked early this year after lambasting him at a leadership retreat a few weeks earlier.

Mr James Musoni, who was fired in April after almost 24 years in key government positions including Finance, Local Government and Infrastructure, will now serve as Rwanda’s first ambassador to Zimbabwe.

The President has also removed the Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana replacing him with his deputy Dan Munyuza. His new deputies will be Felix Ntamuhoranye and Juvenal Marizamunda.

Mr Gasana has been appointed as the Governor of Southern Province to replace Marie Rose Mureshyankwano.

Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) commissioner general Richard Tusabe will now head the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB). He has been replaced by Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali who was his deputy at the tax body.

Col (Rtd) Anaclet Kalibata the long-serving director general of the Emigration and Immigration moves to the National Intelligence and Security Service as the director general of External Security.

Col Kalibata will be replaced by Lt Col Regis Gatarayiha who was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT.

 BY The EastAfrcan

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