By James Munyaneza
Major General Karenzi Karake has been appointed as the deputy chief commander of the recently endorsed hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.
Karenzi currently doubles as the commander of the Fourth Military Division operating in the Southern Province and President of the Military Tribunal.
The move follows last week’s UN Security Council resolution to send 26,000 UN and AU peacekeepers to the troubled region, where the much smaller and ill-equipped African force has been struggling to contain violence for about three years now.
Rwanda has about 2,000 soldiers among the 7000-strong AU peacekeepers in the region, but the mandate of the unilateral African Union force phases out in December which will see a mixed AU-UN force deployed.
Military Spokesman Maj. Jill Rutaremara confirmed Karake’s nomination, adding that the Rwandan would deputise Nigerian General Martin Agway, who is already on the ground.
Gen. Karake, who is also commonly referred to as Afande KK within the military circles, also confirmed the development yesterday.
“It’s an assignment that I will happily execute in the name of my country, the AU and the UN,” he said.
UN nomination letter
However the vastly experienced general will take up his new assignment after officially receiving his UN nomination letter.
The road to his imminent job started with the Rwandan government nominating him for the position, a nomination that was subsequently cleared by the AU.
The Union then forwarded the proposal to the UN, which is in return expected to forward his nomination letter to Rwanda.
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.
Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) are expected to have contributed peacekeepers for the new mission by October, which will finally pave way for the deployment of the new force.
Previous senior military positions held by Gen. Karake include: the Chief of Intelligence (J2), Chief of Training and Operations (J3), Commander of the Third Division and Commander of 408 Brigade.
He 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 Masters of Business Administration from the University of London in the UK.