Uganda, Rwanda retire long serving military chiefs
AUTHOR: The East African | PUBLISHED: September 2, 2023
A photo combination of Uganda's former police chief Kale Kayihura (L) and Rwandan army chief James Kabarebe | Credit | MNG
Uganda and Rwanda this week retired long serving military generals, a move security analysts see as meant to allow internal harmony within the forces, unencumbered by the presence of historical army chiefs.
In the retirements, two names stood out: Gen Kale Kayihura and Gen James Kabarebe of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and Rwanda Defence Forces, respectively, who have served the regimes in their countries, but also courted controversy that caused their falling out with the leadership.
Kayihura was sacked as Inspector General of Police in 2018 and the government slapped him with charges related to capital offences. He was later sanctioned by the US government for rights violations during his time as police chief.
Kabarebe was removed from his powerful defence ministry docket in 2018, too, for what sources at the time said was part of the normalisation of relations between Uganda and Rwanda. He had had repeated outbursts with Kampala.
The two generals defended the regimes in Kampala and Kigali. At one time, President Museveni described Gen Kayihura as a good cadre of the ruling party, in praise of the former IGP who was quick to deploy security to break up opposition protests in the capital.
With 10 UPDF colleagues, Gen Kayihura took his bow before President Museveni at State House Entebbe on August 31, just two days after the military court in Kampala freed him. Prosecutors dropped all charges he had been facing since 2018.
Others who retired in Uganda are Lt Gen James Nakibus Lakara, Maj Gen Samuel Wasswa Mutesasira, Maj Gen Joseph Arocha and Maj Gen David Wakaalo, Brig Gen Austine Kasatwooki Kamanyire, Brig Gen Stephen Oluka, Brig Gen Frank Katende Kyambadde, Brig Gen Emmanuel Kwihangana, Brig Gen Wilson Muhabuzi and Brig Gen Ham Atwooki Kaija.
“Don’t regard this retirement as becoming redundant now, no, not at all! This is like a mutation, from one form of service to another one and that is why we had to hold on retirement until we had solved the problem of package, and I can assure you that what you are going with is considerable,” President Museveni told the retiring army chiefs.
“That is why last year I permitted the retirement of generals and that is why for a long time we do not permit the retirement of casualties at Mubende. We said they should stay until we give them a good retirement package to make sure that their lives in the villages is good. Now this package that you have got is really good,” he said.
Across the border in Rwanda, Gen Kabarebe’s name led on the list of 12 officers who retired from the Rwanda Defence Forces.
The others were Gen Fred Ibingira, Lt Gen Charles Kayonga, Lt Gen Frank Mushuyo Kamanzi, Maj Gen Martin Nzaramba, Maj Gen Eric Murokore, Maj Gen Augustin Turagara, Maj Gen Charles Karamba, Maj Gen Albert Murasira, Brig Gen Chris Murari, Brig Gen Didace Ndahiro and Brig Gen Emmanuel Ndahiro.
For Rwanda, the retirement of generals comes days after President Paul Kagame reshuffled top military chiefs.
Kayihura and Kabarebe executed sensitive security missions and dominated their military scene for decades, leading state agencies for decades but also crossed paths when they headed troops that were deployed in the sick man of the Great Lakes Region, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kayihura was the Operational Commander of the UPDF forces in Ituri Province of the DRC in the late 1990s to early 2000s, while Kabarebe was active in both the first and the Second Congo wars as a commanding officer.