Rwandan to head 9,000 UN Darfur peacekeepers

KIGALI - Rwanda’s Brig. Gen. Denis Rutaha appointed sector commander in Darfur.
Graphic illustration of the United Nation’s logo and the republic of Rwanda flag
Graphic illustration of the United Nation’s logo and the republic of Rwanda flag

KIGALI - Rwanda’s Brig. Gen. Denis Rutaha has been appointed sector commander in the yet-to-be deployed AU-UN hydrid peacekeeping force in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Maj. Jill Rutaremara, the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) Spokesman, said yesterday that Rutaha has been selected to head Sector North, one of the three sectors that will constitute the 26,000-strong mission. The force is due to be deployed next month.

Brig. Gen. Rutaha’s posting comes a few months after the historic appointment of Maj. Gen. Karenzi Karake as deputy commander of the proposed 26,000-strong peacekeeping force.
In preparation for the larger AU-UN force, Darfur has been divided into three sectors, with the others being sectors South and West.

“He has already traveled to Darfur through (the UN headquarters) New York where he received a briefing last week,” Rutaremara said of Gen. Rutaha.  That means the Rwandan general will lead a group of anywhere between 8,000 to 9,000 Rwandan and foreign officers and men if countries that pledged troops deliver on their promises. Gen. Rutaha will oversee the operations of some Rwandan and South African peacekeepers, Rutaremara said.

Last year, Rutaha graduated from the command and staff college of Lusaka, Zambia.
The outgoing AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has eight sectors, which have however been reduced to three as part of the restructuring in the run up to the AU-UN hybrid force.

And unlike in AMIS where each of the eight sectors is commanded by a colonel, the hybrid brigades will be under a Brigadier General.

Previously three out of the eight AMIS sectors, all composed of Rwanda peacekeepers, were commanded by Rwandan officers at the rank of Colonel.

Currently, Rwanda maintains a total of 2,556 peacekeepers in Darfur, and the figure will be raised to 3,200 come January, 2008 when the joint AU-UN force takes over the mission.

Rwanda deployed for the first time in Darfur in August, 2004 as part of the continent’s efforts to end years of violence there which has claimed at least 200,000 people and displaced another 2.5 million since it broke out in February 2003.
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