Rwanda arrests top army generals

Wednesday April 21 2010

By Josh Kron


Two of Rwanda’s senior-ranking army officials have been arrested, a week after President Paul Kagame announced major changes in the military. Lt. Gen. Charles Muhire and Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Karenzi Karake were suspended and arrested on Monday, the country’s military spokesperson said. “Lt. Gen Muhire was suspended due to charges of corruption and misuse of office while Maj. Gen. Karenzi was suspended on serious charges of immoral conduct,” Maj. Jill Rutaremara said yesterday.

Previously promoted
Lt. Gen Muhire was just a week ago sworn in as the new Commander of the Reserve Force. He formerly served as commander of the Rwanda Air Force from 1997 until he was replaced in the recent military reshuffle. Maj. Gen. Karenzi was one of Rwanda’s highest-ranking soldiers and a member of the military elite.

The arrests come weeks after a series of grenade attacks struck Rwanda, one coming a day after President Kagame warned that a coup d’etat could never be pulled off in the country.

Local media had reported that Maj. Gen. Karenzi had been questioned over the attacks and linked to other renegade generals. “This action was taken in order to enforce discipline, moral conduct and accountability in the Rwanda Defence Force,” Maj. Rutaremara said.

Earlier in the month, Lt. Gen Muhire had been deposed from his job in a massive shakeup of the country’s security and intelligence services during commemoriation week for the 16th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Many of Rwanda’s current government officials fought alongside President Kagame.

Start of struggle
Maj. Gen. Karake, who held one of the highest positions in the military, like most of the government officials in Rwanda, grew up in Uganda as a refugee from the former Rwandan government, and attended Makerere University.

For nearly two decades they fought together in the Rwandan Patriotic Front and rebuilt the country together. The arrests of Lt. Gen. Muhire and Maj. Gen. Karake, and the previous fleeing of other high-ranking generals as recently as a couple months ago, including Maj. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa are a rare sign of disagreement in what has long been a tight knit government.

Earlier this month President Kagame shook up the military by replacing long-standing defence minister Marcel Gatsinzi and promoting close aide Gen. James Kabarebe.
It is not immediately clear what Lt. Gen. Muhire and Maj. Gen. Karake will be formally tried for. Mr Kagame is running to re-election in August’s polls in Rwanda and is widely expected to win.

Additional Reporting by Kezio-Musoke David