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.
He is replaced at the defence ministry by General Albert Murasira, who came through the ranks of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) which in 1994 toppled the regime and ended the genocide.
Kabarebe is one of seven officials charged in France over a missile attack on a plane which killed then-president Juvenal Habyarimana and is deemed to have sparked Rwanda’s 1994 genocide which left 800,000 people dead, most of them from the Tutsi minority, according to the United Nations.
The cabinet that has been reduced from 31 to 26 with women making up 50 per cent of the new cabinet, 13 out of 26 has seen former East African Community secretary-general Richard Sezibera appointed as the new Foreign Affairs minister.
Dr Sezibera, 54, prior to heading the EAC Secretariat was the Minister of Health and also served as the presidential advisor on security in the Great Lakes Region.
After completing his five-year term at the EAC in Arusha, Tanzania, he returned to Rwanda and vied in a senatorial by-election in 2016, which he won becoming the Southern Province senator.
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 shuffled or removed.
Outgoing defence minister Gen Kabarebe, who has served in the position since April 2010, will now take up the role of presidential advisor on security.
Kabarebe’s departure is seen as a significant move towards normalisation of Rwanda’s relations with Uganda, which have been frosty for several years.
Whereas, Kigali accuses Kampala of illegally arresting Rwandans in Uganda and of harbouring dissidents, Uganda on its part accuses Rwanda of conducting espionage in Uganda and infiltrating its security bodies.
Gen Kabarebe has previously openly accused Uganda of illegally arresting and torturing Rwandans and purportedly being jealous of Rwanda’s development.
Julienne Uwacu, the Sports and Culture minister, has been replaced by Esperance Nyirasafari, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion.
Solina Nyirahabimana, who makes a comeback to government has taken on the former role of Ms Nyirasafari.
New faces in the cabinet include Paula Ingabire who takes over from Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa as ICT and Innovation minister while Soraya Hakizumuremyi replaces Vincent Munyeshyaka as the Minister of Trade and Industry.
President Kagame also promoted state minister of Infrastructure Germaine Kamayirese to head the renamed Ministry of Emergency Management.
In other major changes, Kagame has replaced the Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana with his deputy Dan Munyuza.
Munyuza’s 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.
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.
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 Emmigration 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.
A number of positions, however, remained unchanged.
Claver Gatete will continue to serve as Minister for Infrastructure, Johnston Busingye remains in the Justice Ministry while Eugène Mutimura maintains the Education docket.
Dr Vincent Biruta remains Minister for Environment, Rosemary Mbabazi continues as Minister for Youth while Fanfan Kayirangwa Rwanyindo continues to head the public service and labour docket.
Uzziel Ndagijimana maintains the Finance Ministry while Marie-Solange Kayisire continues to serve as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Judith Uwizeye will continue to serve as Minister in the Office of the President, Dr Gérardine Mukeshimana remains at the agriculture docket while Dr Diane Gashumba as Health Minister.