Rwanda's finance minister, central banker swap jobs

Rwanda's finance minister and its central banker swapped jobs Tuesday as part of a cabinet reshuffle, a government statement said.

Central bank governor Claver Gatete became finance minister, taking over from John Rwangombwa who takes the top job at the central bank.

Gatete had been head of the central bank since May 2011, while Rwangombwa became finance minister in December 2009 after holding the number two job in the ministry since 2005.

There were no changes at other major ministries such as foreign affairs or defence.

The Rwandan government gave no reason for the switch.

However, a diplomat in the region said the reshuffle was "technical" and aimed at fixing problems arising from the suspension of budget support by many donor countries, as well as to further Rwanda's economic development and poverty reduction.

"Rwangombwa, a technocrat, is well equipped to keep inflation under control and to manage money supply and the forthcoming bond issue," he said.

"For him, the switch is not a sanction, on the contrary it's a message of confidence," he added.

Gatete, who was Rwanda's ambassador to London from 2005 to 2009, is "part of the president's inner circle and he will be in contact with the donors," the diplomat said.

Rwanda's economy grew 7.7% in 2012, according to provisional figures released earlier this month, down from 8.6% the previous year.

Several European nations cut donor support last year after allegations Rwanda was backing rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in claims Kigali rejects.

Some of that aid has since been restored.