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Coup: Rwanda, Cameroon reshuffle military positions after coup in Gabon



By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos

In response to the recent rise in coups on the African continent, some leaders are taking the proactive step of reshuffling their defence portfolios.

On Wednesday, August 30, 2023, Cameroon President Paul Biya made major changes to the country’s Ministry of Defence.

Among the posts reshuffled were the delegate to the presidency in charge of defence, air force staff, navy, and the police.

Recall, Biya came to power in a coup d’etat in 1982. His early years on the saddle were marred by reports of oppression and human rights violations.

Although he subsequently allowed multiparty elections in the country, the 90-year-old has remained president since he rode to power.

Shortly after the Gabon coup, Rwanda’s defence force (RDF) announced on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, that President Paul Kagame approved the retirement of 83 senior officers.

According to the RDF, Kagame also approved the promotion and appointment of some officers to replace the previous office holders.

Meetings between Rwanda’s chief of defence staff, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to Rwanda, and the defence attaché of Cameroon were also held to discuss ways “to enhance defence cooperation between their respective countries.”

In 2015, Rwanda’s constitution was changed to allow Kagame to remain president until 2034.

The 65-year-old has been in power since 2000 and is one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents.

The decisions of Kagame and Biya to reshuffle their militaries came a few hours after soldiers seized power in Gabon, punctuating the 53-year hold on the country by President Ali Bongo’s family.

Bongo had just been re-elected to a third term in office in the Central African nation. The opposition had described the electoral process as “fraudulent”.