BY Claire Mom
As coups continue to spread on the African continent, some leaders are taking proactive steps by reshuffling defence portfolios.
On Wednesday, 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.
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 media 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 throne 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”.
TINUBU SPEAKING WITH AU, WORLD LEADERS
President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria had expressed deep concern over the “contagious autocracy” spreading across the continent and said he was working with leaders of the African Union (AU) and other parts of the world to address the worrying situation.
Tinubu, who is also the chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has been relentless in his resolve to ensure that constitutional order returns to Niger Republic, a country experiencing its fifth coup.
Analysts say the dissatisfaction over sit-tight leaderships in some African nations is a trigger for the now-frequent coups on the continent.