General Karake takes up Darfur hybrid force post

DARFUR - Major General Karenzi Karake has arrived in the Sudanese war-torn Darfur region to become the deputy commander of the 26,000-strong hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force, a development that has effectively dealt a massive blow to critics of his appointment.Karake arrived at the headquarters of the yet-to-be-deployed United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) in El-Fasher in northern Darfur on Sunday, the Military Spokesman, Maj. Jill Rutaremara confirmed yesterday. “He has started his new assignment and is due be briefed by the force commander today (Sunday) in El Fasher,” Rutaremara said.The force commander is Nigeria’s General Martin L. Agwai.
Gen. Karenzi has arrived in Darfur to undertake his new job as the Hybrid UN-AU force deputy commander. (Photo/G. Barya)
Gen. Karenzi has arrived in Darfur to undertake his new job as the Hybrid UN-AU force deputy commander. (Photo/G. Barya)

DARFUR -Major General Karenzi Karake has arrived in the Sudanese war-torn Darfur region to become the deputy commander of the 26,000-strong hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force, a development that has effectively dealt a massive blow to critics of his appointment.Karake arrived at the headquarters of the yet-to-be-deployed United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) in El-Fasher in northern Darfur on Sunday, the Military Spokesman, Maj. Jill Rutaremara confirmed yesterday.“He has started his new assignment and is due be briefed by the force commander today (Sunday) in El Fasher,” Rutaremara said.The force commander is Nigeria’s General Martin L. Agwai.

The news comes weeks after a group of Rwandan exiles which Kigali described as “an amalgamation of extremist fugitives known for their Genocide ideology and hostility against the Government” alleged that Karake had committed human rights crimes in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

The allegations were made by a Brussels-based group, UDF (United Democratic Forces) – Inkingi.

Rutaremara said that while on his way to Darfur, Gen. Karake had a stopover at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he met the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Alpha Omar Konare and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and the Union’s Director for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit.

The military publicist said Karake, 46, passed through Sudan’s Capital Khartoum where he met Sudanese government officials and other politicians.

While in Khartoum, Rutaremara added, Karenzi also met the Chief of Staff of Sudan Armed Forces and the country’s Chief of Staff for Infantry.

He said that Rwanda’s Ambassador to the UN Joseph Nsengimana sent a message on Saturday saying that the UN had approved Karake for the prestigious job.

The AU forwarded Gen. Karake’s nomination to the UN after the former endorsed him last month following his earlier nomination by Rwanda.

His transfer to Darfur coincided with the recalling of Brigadier General Ephraim Rurangwa who was deputising the commander of the African Union Mission in Sudan (Amis), which is set to be replaced by Unamid.

Karake, who was until his latest appointment the President of the Military Tribunal and Commander of the Fourth RDF Division (Southern Province), has a vast military experience and academic qualifications.

He becomes the second-in-command of a 26,000-joint-UN-AU peacekeeping force due to be deployed in Darfur later this year or latest, early next year.

The force will replace the resource-constrained and ill-equipped Amis in which Rwanda has had close to 2,000 peacekeepers over the past four years.

Karake’s deployment to Darfur will most certainly see the country recalling Brig. Gen. Ephraim Rurangwa, who has been the deputy commander of the African peacekeeping force in the troubled region.

Though Sudan finally agreed to a hybrid AU-UN mission after the Security Council watered down an earlier controversial resolution, the peacekeeping force will operate under chapter 7 mandate as opposed to the current African peacekeepers there.

The chapter gives the would-be members of the largest UN peacekeeping force worldwide to use force when necessary in a region where about 200,000 people are believed to have died and another 2.5 million left homeless since 2003.

Karake was the liaison officer for the RPA in Kigali during the 1990-94 liberation struggle that ousted the genocidal government.

Other senior military positions previously held by the General include Chief of Intelligence (J2), Chief of Training and Operations (J3), Commander of the Third Division and Commander of 408 Brigade.

Karake attended the Senior Commander and Staff College at the South African Army College and the National Defence College in Kenya.

The General holds a Bachelors of Commerce degree from Uganda’s Makerere University, Masters of Arts in International Studies from the University of Nairobi in Kenya and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of London in the UK.

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