President Paul Kagame has eulogised Gen (rtd) Marcel Gatsinzi as a man who served his country “selflessly and tirelessly”. Gen Gatsinzi, a former Minister of Defence (2002-2010), died on March 6 in Belgium where he was undergoing cancer treatment. He was 75. In a message read out during the former minister’s burial at Kanombe Military Cemetery on Thursday, by Defence Minister Maj Gen Albert Murasira, President Kagame reflected on Gatsinzi’s years of service before his retirement 10 years ago. ALSO READ: The life and times of Gen Marcel Gatsinzi The President observed that Gatsinzi’s death brought deep sadness to his family as well as to the family of the Rwanda Defence Force and the country in general. He hailed Gen Gatsinzi’s “good deeds and achievements” both in defence of the country and in its development endeavours. Kagame said Gen Gatsinzi had, during his political and military careers, contributed in different ways, notably through his ideas and getting things done. ALSO READ: A General’s memories of 45 years in the army Gatsinzi served in different capacities both in the military and government having joined the former Rwanda Patriotic Army (now Rwanda Defence Force) after the former ousted the genocidal regime from power in 1994. Gatsinzi, who was already a senior officer in the army before joining the RPA nearly 30 years ago, was appointed Chief of Staff of Gendarmerie (equivalent to the present-day national police) in the immediate aftermath of the Genocide against the Tutsi. First Rwandan four-star General In 2004, he became the first Rwandan to attain the rank of four-star General. In 2002, Gen Gatsinzi was appointed Minister of Defence, a position he held until 2010, when he became Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs. He retired from the army in 2013, ending a stellar career of 45 years that had taken him to the top echelons of the armed forces. ALSO READ: RDF mourns Gen Marcel Gatsinzi Kagame said Gatsinzi earned his positions over the years thanks to his commitment to the values that Rwanda and the RDF in particular hold dear. He always committed to making sure that the people he led espoused the same values, Kagame, who’s the Commander-In-Chief of the RDF, said. ‘Legacy of patriotism and service’ The general passed on when “the country, his family and all of us still need him”, the President added. We should all uphold the legacy of patriotism and service to the country that Gen Gatsinzi leaves with us, Kagame said in his message. The Head of State pledged to always stand by Gen Gatsinzi’s family, through the Ministry of Defence and the RDF family. Among the mourners at the funeral were RDF Chief of Defence Staff Gen Jean Bosco Kazura and the Senior Security Advisor to the President, Gen James Kabarebe. As is custom in military burial ceremonies, a gun salute was part of the final goodbyes to the general. Gen Gatsinzi is survived by his wife and six children.