Rwanda and Cameroon have unveiled significant shifts in their security forces, impacting senior military personnel.
In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame retired hundreds of soldiers, coinciding with the advancement of young soldiers within the nation’s security framework. New generals have also been appointed to lead army divisions situated across the country.
The Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) released a statement disclosing Kagame’s approval of the retirement of twelve generals, eighty-three senior officers, and six junior officers.
Additionally, eighty-six senior non-commissioned officers will be retired. About 678 soldiers retired as their contracts concluded, with 160 others medically discharged.
Prominent figures from Rwanda’s 1994 liberation war, including Gen. James Kabarebe, Gen. Fred Ibingira, and Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga, are among the retirees. Both Kabarebe and Kayonga previously held the position of chief of defense staff of the Rwandan army.
On the same day, Kagame elevated several young officers to the rank of colonel and designated new generals to lead military divisions. Other retirees encompass Lt. Gen. Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, currently Rwanda’s ambassador to Russia, and Maj. Gen. Albert Murasira, a former defense minister.
In June, Kagame appointed Juvenal Marizamunda as the new defense minister, succeeding Albert Murasira, who had held the role since 2018.
In similar development, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, enacted fresh appointments within the Defense Ministry’s central administrative unit, as outlined in a decree shared on social media.
The sweeping changes in Cameroon and Rwanda came barely hours after the coup in Gabon, where President Ali Bongo Ondimba was toppled and placed under house arrest by soldiers. Both leaders did not reference the coups in Niger and Gabon in their respective decisions.
Soldiers who seized power in Niger in late July have also faced sanctions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), although the measures have so far failed to persuade the junta to return power to the democratically elected leadership.
Mr Biya, in a statement posted on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, said he had issued a decree to terminate some soldiers and move others from the country’s defence department.
Newly appointed senior military chiefs for the army include Ajeagah Njei Felix, Kamdom Lucas, and Nguema Ondo Bertin Bourger, amongst others.
Edou Essono Serge Durel and Moudio Hervé were among the newly designated officers in the Cameroon’s marine.
US firm Global Fire Power, in its 2023 ranking of the most powerful armies in the world put Cameroon at the 17th in Africa out of 34 countries, and 100th in the world.
Within the CEMAC zone, Cameroon is outperformed by Chad, 15th on the continent and 97th in the world.
Africa’s top 5 military powers are Egypt (14th in the world) Algeria (26th in the world), South Africa (33rd in world), Nigeria (36th in world), Ethiopia (49th in the world) and Angola (55th in the world).