Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Rwanda army generals arrested

Rwandan President Paul Kagame. PHOTO/REUTERS

Rwandan President Paul Kagame. PHOTO/REUTERS 

By JOSH KRON, NATION Correspondent, Kigali

Two of Rwanda’s most senior army officials were arrested after a major shake-up in the military was announced by President Paul Kagame.

Lieutenant-General Charles Muhire and Major-General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake were suspended from duty and arrested, according to the country’s military spokesperson, Jill Rutaremara.

“Lt-Gen Muhire was suspended due to serious charges of corruption and misuse of office,” Rutaremara told reporters in Rwanda. “Maj-Gen Karenzi was suspended on serious charges of immoral conduct.”

Lt-Gen Muhire was formerly the head of Rwanda’s air force while Maj-Gen Karenzi was one of the country’s highest ranking soldiers and a member of the military’s ruling elite.

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

Local media had reported that Maj-Gen Karenzi was questioned over the attacks, which were eventually pinned on other renegade generals.

“This action was taken in order to enforce discipline, moral conduct, and accountability in the Rwanda Defence Force,” Rutaremara said.

Earlier this month, Lt-Gen Muhire was deposed from his job in a major shake-up of the country’s security and intelligence services. The move came during the commemoration week for the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

President Kagame’s Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) ended the genocide in 1994 by defeating the then government and took over power. Many of Rwanda’s current government officials fought alongside President Kagame and the former rebel group RPF remains largely intact.

Maj-Gen Karenzi, who held one of the highest positions in the military, grew up in Uganda as a refugee and attended Makerere University along with most of the people in government. For nearly two decades, they fought together and rebuilt Rwanda.

The latest arrests and the previous fleeing of other high-ranking generals signal a fissure in what has been seen as a tight-knit group of leadership.

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