RDF to create a reserve force

PARLIAMENT – Government yesterday tabled before the Lower Chamber of Parliament a new bill that seeks to restructure the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), where a reserve force will be created and Marine forces merged with Land forces.
Defence Minister Marcel Gatsinzi in Parliament yesterday. (Photo J Mbanda)
Defence Minister Marcel Gatsinzi in Parliament yesterday. (Photo J Mbanda)

PARLIAMENT – Government yesterday tabled before the Lower Chamber of Parliament a new bill that seeks to restructure the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), where a reserve force will be created and Marine forces merged with Land forces.

While tabling the draft bill before lawmakers, Defence Minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi said that the idea to merge Marines with Land Forces was based on the topography of the country that does not provide enough opportunities for such a section in a military composition.

“Rwanda has no access to large waters, and therefore the existing Marine forces are in very small numbers to make up a whole division of our military,” Gatsinzi said.

He said article 173 of Rwanda’s constitution provides room for such changes when necessary.

Gen. Gatsinzi said that the existing structure of RDF is based on the Presidential decree that prescribed its formation while still the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) before it became RDF in 2002.

According to the draft law, the new structure of the RDF would be made up of Land Forces (marines inclusive), the Air Force and the Reserve Force.

Gatsinzi said that the Reserve Forces will be made up of various people with a military background, including demobilised soldiers and others to be recruited according to the criteria that will be set by the law.

“But the law should also provide clear limits because not all those who are demobilised will join the reserve forces,” he said, explaining that the country may not have the capacity to accommodate them all.

The draft law also proposed the creation of an independent special force tasked to protect five top officials of the country and visiting VIPs.

The proposed Special Protection Service (SPS) will replace the existing Republican Guard.

According to Gatsinzi, this new force will be an independent organ both in structure and in operations.

“Its members will not be drawn from any security organ,” he told MPs, explaining that this will be a special force that will also be guided by special laws and rules.

The Minister said that members of the SPS may benefit from various trainings offered by other security organs but will also have their own training centers for their special assignments.
He could not however reveal how big the service will be.

Parliamentarians appreciated the initiative and move to change the name that was tarnished by the acts former Presidential Guards (GP- Gardes Présidentielle) during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

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