The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Nyakarundi, The Country's First Military Attaché to UN

Kigali — Lt. Col. Vincent Nyakarundi, 40, will be Rwanda's first ever Military Attaché to the United Nations (UN) in New York, USA.

Col. Nyakarundi's promotion from a Major and his nomination to represent Rwanda at the UN, was announced Wednesday at a Cabinet Meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame, at Urugwiro Village.

"I am very happy for the promotion and the work appointment. It is a job with many challenges and a lot of expectations - this being the first time we go there. But I believe that with my previous experience, along with the guidance from my superiors, colleagues and God, I will be able to make it," Lt. Col. Nyakarundi remarked on Friday.

"I am extremely determined to serve my institution - Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and the country to the best of my capacity."

In a separate interview, Army Spokesman Maj. Jill Rutaremara gave further details concerning the battle hardened solider.

"He is the first ever appointment to the United Nations' Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO). He will be a liaison officer, a link with the Rwanda Defence Force," Maj. Rutaremara said.

"Peace keeping is something we feel that we will be involved in for a long time and thus the need to get someone there."

As indicated on the UN website, in accordance with the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the department (DPKO) is dedicated to assisting Member States and the Secretary-General in their efforts to maintain international peace and security.

The department's mission is to plan, prepare, manage and direct UN peacekeeping operations, so that they can effectively fulfil their mandates.

Currently the world's 6th largest peace-keeping troop provider, with over 2,500 troops deployed in Sudan's volatile western region - Darfur, Rwanda is at the forefront in peace keeping missions.

"We decided to have him there because of our long time and heavy involvement in peacekeeping operations. We have an ambassador at the UN but we did not have someone following up on military issues. Apart from that, it is also about enhancing relations between the UN and Rwanda in the area of peace keeping," Maj. Rutaremara said. Other countries, especially those with peace keeping contingents, have military attachés at the UN.

Maj. Rutaremara explained that as Military Attaché, Lt. Col. Nyakarundi will look into many issues, including, matters to do with Rwandan troops' operations in peace keeping.

"If there are any ideas he sees that can improve Rwandan troops' undertakings - it is up to him to forward that to his country. When there,, you even meet Attachés from different countries and exchange ideas."

The Colonel will travel to start his duties soon after the normal diplomatic processes are completed.

Who is Lt. Col. Vincent Nyakarundi?

Lt. Col. Nyakarundi is married and has four children - three girls and a boy. He also has a 20 year old son, a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, he adopted at the age of five.

Peace keeping experience

Back in October 2004 he led the second Rwandan contingent in the then African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) up to May 2005.

In 2007, he went back as a senior staff officer in charge of operations.

Initially founded in 2004, AMIS was an AU peacekeeping force operating primarily in Sudan's conflict laden western region of Darfur until it (AMIS) was replaced by a joint AU-UN Hybrid mission -UNAMID, in December 2007.

After the Darfur-UN experience, from September 2008, Nyakarundi was appointed Director of Operations in J3 - the department for operations, training and planning in the RDF.

Lt. Col. Nyakarundi also participated "actively" in the January-February joint Rwanda- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) military operation (operation Umoja Wetu) against the FDLR rebel elements in eastern DRC.

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