Rwanda: Who is the new Defence Minister Gen. James Kabarebe?
Major changes in the Army have been announced Saturday evening by President Paul Kagame. Gen. James Kabarebe has replaced Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi as Defense Minister.
The new Defense Minister is Gen. James Kabarebe – who has been the Chief of Defense Staff. Gen. Kabarebe is the fastest rising star in army ranks – up from President Kagame’s aide-de-camp in the rebel army, to the country’s Army chief in 2002.
For the new Defense Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, 51, the sky has been the limit – where he has constantly risen up the ranks with the fastest pace so far. In the RPF rebel ranks, James Kabarebe, is said to have been private Secretary and aide-de-camp (ADC) of Major-General Paul Kagame.
When the rebels took power, Kabarebe was Commander of the High Command Unit at Mulindi. Later, this unit would become the ferocious Presidential Guard, when Major-General Paul Kagame, was Vice President and Defense Minister.
In 1996, Colonel Kabarebe was the commanding officer of the forces that invaded DR Congo (then Zaire) to hunt the extremist ex-army, where it is said he personally installed late Laurent Kabila as President of DRC. Interestingly, James Kabarebe became the Chief of Staff of the Congolese Army Forces (FAC) after Mzee Laurent Desire Kabila took power in the DRC in 1997.
A year later, Kabarebe, and indeed, Kigali, fell out with President Kabila (senior) – which was followed up by a second entry of Rwandan forces into DRC after DRC could not reign-in the Rwandan rebels accused on Genocide. Kabarebe was brought back home where he served in different posts – also rising to Brig. General, then Major General and Deputy Chief of Staff.
In October 2002, the Commander-in-Chief, President Kagame named Maj. Gen. Kabarebe as Chief of Defense Staff of what had been changed to the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF), from Rwanda Patriotic Army. He replaced now-fugitive Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
That did not seem like it was going to be the end for Maj. Gen. Kabarebe – the father of three, as he was actually promoted to full “General” along with his now ex-boss Gatsinzi. The changes came with the new army structure.
General Kabarebe is a holder of a BA in Economics and Political Science from Uganda’s Makerere University. He commissioned in 1989 – then in the Ugandan army.
[adapted from ARI-RNA]