A cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on August 8 dismissed 10 Officers and 57 Non-Commissioned Officers of Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) in a routine exercise to enforce discipline in the army.
According to the Defence and Military Spokesperson Lt Col. Innocent Munyengango, the soldiers were dismissed from the military due to gloss indiscipline but said that it is a routine exercise by the army to ensure discipline and professionalism.
The 10 officers were dismissed by a Presidential order while the 57 Non-Commissioned officers and enlisted personnel were dismissed by a Ministerial order.
“They were dismissed because of gross indiscipline. Each one of them had an individual case but they all pointed to gross indiscipline,” Lt. Col Munyengango told Rwanda Today, adding that the dismissals are done as indicated by the law and approved by the cabinet.
Some of the cases that lead to dismissal include gross misconduct such as alcoholism and being found guilty of committing certain crimes and transgressions.
According to the Presidential Order Nº22/01 of 21/10/2016 establishing Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Special Statute, any disgraceful, unacceptable and shameful action contrary to the RDF doctrine and laws thereof, can lead to dismissal.
Also a sentence that exceeds 6 months, given by the court of law can lead to dismissal from the army. Under the law, failure not to me promotional requirements three times can also lead to dismissal or contract termination.
According to Lt Col Munyengango, some military personnel repeat similar crimes over time and the RDF decides to dismiss them.
There have been recent public incidents involving RDF soldiers, including a reported on July 28 where to two soldiers linked to the elite Republican Guard, the presidential guard, were involved in a bar brawl in Giporoso, Remera, leaving one of the soldiers dead.
Local media reported that the duo were involved in a quarrel with one of the revellers, over the refusal by one of the soldiers to hand over money owed to the reveller after losing a game of pool on which they had bet Rwf30, 000.
A fight erupted between the reveller, identified as Willy Muzuka and the soldier, which prompted the other soldier, identified as Ephraim Muhozi, to try and stop the fight. However, witnesses say the civilian patron smashed a bottle and used a sharp piece to stab the peacemaker Muhozi before fleeing from the scene.
Muhozi reportedly died on the way to hospital while unconfirmed reports say Muzuka was arrested by citizens doing Umuganda, Community work, on Saturday morning and handed him over to security organs. His family fears for his life.
“We have failed to locate him in any of the police stations,” one of the relatives said.
Similarly, on July 23, an RDF soldier shot and killed one person in Gikondo, Kigarama Sector, Kicukiro district, during the day after the citizen refused to be checked by the soldier on duty.
Onlookers said that at around 2pm, the RDF soldier stopped a man with a bag and demanded to check it, but the man resisted.
The RDF Spokesperson said that the individual got a machete from the bag and attacked the soldier on duty, prompting the RDF personnel to shoot him in self-defence, in broad daylight.
In the same area, in May 2017, two RDF soldier shot and killed a bar owner after a disagreement. Jean Pierre Nshimyumikiza and Claude Ishimwe shot and killed Aimé Yvan Ntivuguruzwa on May 10. The same year in October they were sentenced to life by a military court, in the presence of residents of Gikondo.
RDF condemned the act of indiscipline and compensated the aggrieved family.
The Rwandan army is considered among the most disciplined in the region and has about 6, 146 soldiers on UN Peacekeeping missions, making Rwanda the 5th leading contributor.