Rwandan President Paul Kagame has reassigned former Special Forces commanders to serve in top positions at military training schools.
Maj Gen Innocent Kabandana, who previously served as Special Operations Forces commander, has been appointed commandant Rwanda Military Academy, Gako.
Kabandana replaces Brig Gen Ephrem Rurangwa who will now serve as Commandant Rwanda Military Hospital.
In November 2019, Kabandana was moved from the highly influential position of running the country’s elite forces to serving as Deputy Commander Reserve Force under Gen Fred Ibingira.
That was the time Rwandan Special Forces were very active in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, hunting down rebels.
Kabandana was replaced by Colonel Karusisi Ruki.
Commanding specialised military positions gives one clout and access to the President.
“Being removed from Special Operations to run a Cadet training school is more or less a demotion,” said an experienced officer in Rwanda who preferred anonymity to speak freely.
Kabandana had previously served as Head of Operations at the Republican Guard, a special force that secures the president and his family members.
Kagame, in a reshuffle announced this past weekend, also appointed Col Emmanuel Kanobayire as Deputy Commandant Combat Training Centre, Gabiro.
Col Emmanuel Kanobayire has been deputizing Special Operations Forces commander, Karusisi.
Officials say Kagame is reducing the clout of these former top Special Forces operators or wants to boost the capabilities of the training schools in the wake of evolving regional security challenges.
Kagame also appointed Brig Gen Evariste Murenzi as the Deputy Commander Task Force Division in charge Admin, Planning and Logistics.
Murenzi is a former Rwandan armed forces (ex-FAR) commander who was integrated in RDF in 2004 alongside Maj-Gen Paul Rwarakabije, Col Jerome Ngendahimana, Lt-Col Evariste Murenzi and Thadee Nzeyimana.
The quartet had fled to the DRC after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They were brought into RDF to foster reconciliation and encourage other militants to leave DRC jungles with the view of returning home.
Meanwhile, Kagame appointed Col Dr Etienne Uwimana as Head Imaging Department at Rwanda Military Hospital while Maj J. Claude Kalisa will head the logistics department (AQ Cell) at the 4th Division with headquarters in Butare, Southern Western Rwanda.
On Monday night, Kagame sacked Internal Affairs Minister Gen Patrick Nyamvumba who previously served as Chief of Defence Staff “owing to matters of accountability under investigation.”
He has been sent to RDF headquarters “pending further decision.”