In a significant development within Rwanda, a notable historic figure of the country’s armed forces, General James Kabarebe, has been retired, alongside approximately ten other generals. The Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) revealed this announcement on the evening of August 30, 2023, through an official statement.
Among the distinguished names listed, General James Kabarebe stands out as a prominent figure within the Rwandan military. He has been a pivotal security advisor to President Paul Kagame for several decades. Having been in this role since 2019, he provided critical insights on defense and security matters. A veteran of 64 years, General Kabarebe has held key positions within the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), notably serving as the Minister of Defense from 2010 to 2018 and previously holding the position of Chief of Staff. His journey began as an aide-de-camp to Paul Kagame in 1994, eventually ascending to the highest echelons of the military apparatus.
His involvement in the first Congo War alongside Laurent-Désiré Kabila earned him the moniker “the vanquisher of Mobutu.” Recent reports also linked his name to Rwandan officers allegedly engaged in operations in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as stated in the June 13th report by UN experts on the DRC. These allegations, however, were refuted by Rwandan authorities.
The retirement announcement of General Kabarebe, accompanied by the retirement of around ten other generals and 83 senior officers, comes less than three months after a comprehensive military reshuffle in June. This reshuffling marked a substantial change, involving numerous high-level alterations, including the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff.