Kagame appoints new foreign minister, army chief of staff in major reshuffle

Tuesday November 5 2019

L-R: Newly appointed RDF Chief of Defence Staff

L-R: Newly appointed RDF Chief of Defence Staff Gen Jean-Bosco Kazura, RDF Reserve Force Chief of Staff Gen Fred Ibingira, and Inspector General of RDF Lt Gen Jacques Musemakweli. / Courtesy photos 

By Ivan R. Mugisha

President Paul Kagame has dropped Richard Sezibera from serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing him with long-serving Minister of Environment Vincent Biruta, in a major cabinet reshuffle that was conducted Monday evening.

Sezibera has been missing in action since July after getting hospitalized due to an illness - and until the reshuffle - his duties were temporarily assumed by State Minister for Regional Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe.

Sezibera served for a short one year stint as Minister of foreign affairs having replaced Louis Mushikiwabo, who is now stationed in France as the head of the La Francophonie.

His replacement, Biruta, is a seasoned politician who previously served in several ministerial positions, and as President of the senate.

The 60-year-old politician is also the president of the Social Democratic Party – one of the many small parties that are in coalition with the ruling party, Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF).

Among his important tasks now as the top Rwanda diplomat will include taking over leadership in the ongoing saga with Uganda as both neighbors seek to chart a path back to normal relations.

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President Kagame also made a major change in the army by appointing Gen Jean-Bosco Kazura as the Chief of Defence Staff of Rwanda Defense Forces.

The 56 year old army veteran replaces General Patrick Nyanvumba who served in that capacity since 2013 and will now serve as Minister in the newly created ministry of Internal Security.

Besides being an army general, Kazura is a renowned football fan who headed the Rwandan Football Federation for two terms between 2006 and 2011.

He was arrested in June 2010 for being away without leave and for traveling to South Africa without permission – and released after spending a month in military detention.

He rebounded from his debacles later in 2013 when he was appointed as Force Commander of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.

President Kagame also returned Gen Fred Ibingira as Chief of Staff of the Reserve Force, a position he had previously held for eight years before being sacked last year.

He has replaced Lt Gen Jacques Musemakweli who is now the Inspector General of the RDF, which is a newly created office.

Kagame also split the ministry of sports of culture into different institutions and appointed a new face, Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju, as the Minister of Sports.

She is a surprise appointment and her first job as a politician, having previously served as CEO of local insurance firm Sonarwa.