Rwandan President Paul Kagame has named the former labour minister Anastase Murekezi as the new prime minister on Wednesday, bringing to five the number who have served under him.
Murekezi, 62, is a member of the Rwanda’s second largest political party, the Social Democratic Party (PSD), a member of the ruling coalition.
He trained as an agronomist in Belgium, coming into the limelight in 2004 when he was appointed the State Minister in Charge of Industry and Investment – a post he held for one year before he was elevated to a full cabinet minister and moved to the agriculture docket.
Murekezi, who served as the labour minister since 2008, is the fifth prime minister since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He replaces Pierre Damien Habumuremyi as prime minister.
Three of his predecessors had a fairly turbulent experience in office.
Faustin Twagiramungu was the first prime minister of Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. He resigned a year later and fled the country only to return in 2003 to contest the presidential election. He ran as an independent and after the election again fled Rwanda. He currently lives in a self-imposed exile in Belgium.
Pierre-Célestin Rwigema succeeded Twagiramungu in 1995 but announced his resignation in 2000. Three months later he sought political asylum in the US. Shortly after his departure accusations arose of his involvement in the 1994 genocide, however these claims were found to be politically motivated and unfounded.
Rwigema eventually returned to Rwanda after an exile of 11 years. In 2012 he was one of eight elected to represent Rwanda in the East African Community Legislative Assembly.
Bernard Makuza succeeded Rwigema in 2000. A former Rwandan Ambassador to Burundi and Germany he served as Prime Minister for 11 years before being appointed by Kagame to the Senate. He was succeeded by the just-recently replaced Pierre Habumuremyi.
Habumuremyi had been prime minister since October 7, 2011. His appointment came as a surprise to many, as he had a relatively low profile on the political scene, having been a career academic. He was appointed to the Rwandan government as Minister of Education in May 2011. After a very short stint in this post he was picked as premier on the evening of October 6, 2011.
Reacting to his removal from the post, Habumuremyi tweeted: “My sincere gratitude to @PaulKagame & RPF for the trust bestowed on me when I was appointed PM and all of you who supported me. God bless u”.
The appointment of Murekezi is expected to bring in a cabinet reshuffle, as under Rwanda’s constitution, ministers must be chosen - or reappointed - by the new prime minister.
“It is a great honour for me to have been appointed prime minister,” Murekezi said on his Twitter account. “My new appointment gives me a unique opportunity to keep serving my country Rwanda.”.
Rwanda has shown dramatic economic successes in recent years, with its GDP per capita growing five-fold in the past two decades, according to the World Bank.
But critics accuse the country’s rulers of suppressing dissent and involvement in conflict in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.