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Monday, May 1, 2000

Lack of Choice May Delay Rwanda's VP Appointment

By LEVI OCHIENG
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

THE CHOICE of a new Vice-President for Rwanda is likely to delay although discussions on the candidates are going on by the ruling Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF). There are no established procedures and timeframe for filling such a post.

Previously non-existent, the post was created under the declaration of the RPF principles when it took power in 1994.

It was occupied by Paul Kagame until he was elected Head of State to take over from Pasteur Bizimungu, who resigned recently.

Kagame, who was also defence minister, has relinquished the powerful portfolio in a move seen as part of efforts by Kigali to have a government without too much concentration of power in one hand.

A high-level source in Kigali said Colonel Emmanuel Habyarimana, a Hutu and former member of the Rwanda government Forces (RGF) of the late Juvenal Habyarimana, was chosen last week to take over the Defence Ministry as a strategic move to appease critics of the Kigali regime who say it is dominated by the Tutsi elite.

Although the governing fundamental law of Rwanda provides that the Ministry of Defence belongs to the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) under a power sharing agreement between political parties, this time the post has been given to a non-member.

Col Habyarimana has been the Minister of State for Defence since 1997 and was unanimously approved by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the RPF.

Sources said the NEC, chaired by President Kagame in his capacity as Chairman of the RPF, met last week and approved Col Habyarimana.

The President and the Prime Minister carried out consultation with each other over the choice before making a formal announcement.
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