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Rwanda: President Kagame Commissions Officer Cadets

Kagame at Cadet Officers Ceremony Gako

Kagame at Cadet Officers Ceremony Gako

President Paul Kagame today commissioned 240 new cadet officers into the Rwanda Defence Force at the Gako Military Academy. In his speech after officially commissioning the new army officers, President Kagame congratulated and welcomed the officers to the Rwanda Defence Force. He also acknowledged the presence of graduates from countries around the region who chose to undergo training in Rwanda at the Gako Military Academy. “I wish to acknowledge your endurance and your dedication to the military institution, motivated, no doubt, by your desire to uphold our countries’ honour and integrity. May I also acknowledge the presence of graduates from our friends in the region and beyond who chose to come and undergo this rigorous training in our country and did well. I should also thank our other guests from our brother and sister country of Ethiopia who are represented here by the Ministry of Defense and Chief of Defence staff”, he said.

President Kagame told the newly commissioned officers that the training they had underwent was to prepare them for duties which they would be called upon to undertake as directed by the national command authorities including international peacekeeping operations at defending peace and security. He pointed out that the proper training that they had received underscores the soldier’s mental, moral and physical qualities. “Without proper training, even a large and seemingly powerful force may not have good results in the end in the duties they undertake. Therefore, training -proper training is part and parcel and a priority for any force to be effective and efficient,” said the President, adding that the new officers are now equipped with virtues that foster professional competence, disciopline, personal responsibility, teamwork and mental and physical prowess, qualities he said are critically important.
The training has also instilled in you moral courage, integrity, commitment and loyalty to your cause and comrades and the will to overcome even the most challenging circumstances. Above all, I am sure you will have the heightened sense of service to your country,” he said, pointing out to the young officers that these are the same principles that guided and informed their predecessors who led the country’s liberation and now play a critical role in maintaining the peace and security required for Rwandans’ wellbeing and their social and economic development.

President Kagame cautioned that leadership is a matter that should not be taken lightly. He said that while at the national level and international politics leadership is an indispensable factor for good governance while at the military strategic level, leadership often means a difference between life and death, success and defeat, making leadership critical to both political and military success because you may have all the resources at your disposal yet without leadership, all opportunities would be lost. He however cautioned that becoming a good leader is a matter of choice because one may undergo training, spend time learning about concepts of leadership and have role models but in the end, he said, one has to choose between so many things to do and how to do them; to lead with courage, without fear or favour and to lead without compromising on principles for the benefit of the people being served. “We have seen many bad examples in our own country and elsewhere on our continent,” he said.

President Kagame urged the young officers and those who are already on the force to maintain the sense of duty and responsibility and keep self-seekers and individuals at bay and stop them from reversing the freedoms, integrity and dignity of the people that were fought for. “In the case of our country, there are many examples as we witnessed people riding on resources and will our country and abused their sense of responsibility out of selfishness. But we should remain that institution and the people who fought so hard to liberate ourselves and be able to uphold accountability and have no apology for anybody who fails the demands of that accountability.

Again it’s a question of choice. We can choose to be those people that hold ourselves and each other accountable and build on that for our people’s social and economic transformation, or we can decide to live as individuals satisfy ourselves by doing things that will disadvantage the people we lead and hence remain impoverished, begging, whipped every day and night by those who provide for you –it’s all a choice! Or fill your stomach by stealing from the public resources, ride on short stories of the past; the liberation that you were part of and flee the country and live on the loot,” the President said, emphasizing that security for all Rwandans will be seen in a combination of factors including defending the national sovereignty and territorial integrity and human security which entails social and economic development, good governance, access to vital services by the people, rights and other freedoms. He alerted the newly commissioned officers on the challenges that lie ahead on the road towards the development of the nation and assured neighbours, friends in Africa and beyond that Rwanda will always seek to work together with them in the pursuit of mutual benefits knowing that all concerned deserve the development and the dignity that comes with it.

[PaulKagame]

March 26, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda Government Confirms UN Mandate To Send Prison Wardens To Haiti

Kigali – Rwandan Government confirmed on March 24, 2010  that the United Nations granted Rwanda a mandate  to send prison wardens to Haiti.

Source: Kigali: Ibyemezo by’inama y’abaminisitiri yo kuwa 24 Werurwe 2010

Related article:

Why Would Rwanda Send Police To Haiti?

March 26, 2010   1 Comment

William Nkurunziza Appointed Rwandan Ambassador To India In Replacement Of Defected Kayumba Nyamwasa

Kigali – Mr William Nkurunziza is appointed Ambassador of Rwanda in India in lieu of fugitive General Kayumba Nyamwasa for which Rwanda has made an application for extradition from South Africa.

March 26, 2010   No Comments

Rejected Rwandan Asylum Seeker Pleads For ’11th-hour Intervention’

35-year-old health worker fears for her life; but Ottawa no longer believes she’s a refugee.

Charlotte Umutesi at her aunt's home, St. Albert, Alta.

Behind the fine eyeglasses of Charlotte Umutesi lie dark, withdrawn eyes.

The 35-year-old elderly-care worker doesn’t speak much these days. When she does, she says she hardly eats and hardly sleeps, jolted awake night after night by nightmares of her past.

She came to Canada five years ago as a refugee from Rwanda, fleeing a genocidaire she insists killed her husband, sister and parents. She claims the man beat her and sexually assaulted her, and has since attacked her brother after Ms. Umutesi testified against him in a tribunal. She fears he now wants to kill her, too.

She has the same profile as people who are accepted [for residency], and yet she’s refused. — Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees

“I’m very scared,” she says quietly, wrapped in a coral-coloured scarf and sitting in the Edmonton-area home of her aunt. “They’re going to kill me.”

Canada, however, does not believe Ms. Umutesi and rejected her application to stay in the country. Now, with her legal avenues nearly exhausted and barring intervention from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Ms. Umutesi is poised to be the first person to be deported from Canada to Rwanda since its 1994 genocide.

Advocates, spearheaded by the local francophone association, say she is the victim of an arbitrary system of evaluation.

“She has the same profile as people who are accepted [for residency], and yet she’s refused,” says Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “The result of the whole thing is you get people like Charlotte who draw the short straw, and now the government is spending lots of money to remove her to the benefit of nobody whatsoever.”

Her aunt Nathalie Uwantege, a French teacher, is hoping for a last-minute intervention.

“We want to ask for grace. We want, if possible, to ask for them to review the case. She does not pose a risk to this country. In fact, I think she’s an asset.”

Ms. Umutesi’s Canadian experience began five years ago. She says that on Sept. 16, 2005, she testified at a Rwanda tribunal against a man she identifies as Gakire, whom she accuses of killing her family (the Canadian government doubts the man exists). Twelve days later, “Gakire” broke into her home, beating and raping her, she claims. “He threatened that if I returned to the [trial] he would not just rape me again, but kill me,” she writes in an account provided to her lawyer.

She fled and arrived in Canada five weeks later, having sold her home and store and left her two grown children. She applied for refugee status that day. She has since settled in Edmonton, where she has an apartment and a job, and married a Calgary man.

In 2007, Immigration and Refugee Board judge William Davis ruled that Ms. Umutesi did not qualify for refugee status, citing “serious inconsistencies, contradictions and omission” in her story. He noted in his ruling that she obtained both a medical report and travel visa from a man with the same name, failed to produce documents proving the death of her family and her own injuries, said she mixed up many of her dates. He questioned even whether she was, in fact, a Tutsi, the ethnic group targeted in the genocide, deciding she was only by granting her “the benefit of any doubt which I have.”

“Everything she has said they said is a lie,” Ms. Uwantege says, arguing that her niece has an eighth-grade education and suffered a traumatic experience, leading to the inconsistencies. She says the requests for photos and documentation of the attacks are “absurd.”

“It’s a poor country. Who would think of taking a shot of that? Who even has a camera?” says the teacher, who came to Edmonton in 1996.

Ms. Umutesi then applied for residency under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. She was rejected last November. She might have appealed, but her lawyer said Legal Aid, a funding body for cases involving low-income people, had only paid him to file the initial application. He suggested she ask Legal Aid to find a new lawyer to file an appeal. She didn’t file one.

Ms. Umutesi’s new Ottawa-based lawyer, Jacques Bahimanga, says an appeal would have allowed them to demonstrate the threat he believes she faces. As evidence, the family produces a Rwandan news article, though it is far from being a smoking gun – the source of its material is the family itself, speaking about their concern that Gakire remains free. A printed photo said to be Ms. Umutesi is of another woman.

Last month, Ms. Umutesi received her final rejection, a federal notice saying “you would not be subject to risk of persecution, torture, risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment” if sent back.

“You must leave Canada immediately.”

Ms. Umutesi’s passport has expired, so she is awaiting a new one from the Rwandan embassy. Once she has it, she’ll be immediately deported. Ms. Umutesi says her last hope of staying in Canada is a direct intervention from Mr. Kenney or for a judge to grant Mr. Bahimanga’s last-minute request for an appeal. A spokesman for Mr. Kenney denied the minister has the power to intervene.

A removal to Rwanda wasn’t possible until recently. Since 1994, Canada had abided by a “Temporary Suspension of Removal” to Rwanda – only dangerous criminals could be sent back to the country. But in July, 2009, the federal government rescinded the TSRs for Rwanda, Liberia and Burundi, citing “improved conditions” there.

Olivia Chow, the federal New Democrat critic for immigration, opposes lifting the TSR for Rwanda at all but said that “even just on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, this woman should be allowed to stay in Canada.”

In a ruling against Ms. Umutesi, the government noted that between 16 and 22 genocide survivors had been murdered last year in Rwanda, many after testifying, but said it couldn’t prove she faced the same fate.

“They’re minimizing the risk,” Ms. Uwantege says. “Even if it was one person [killed,] would you want to go back to be the second?”

[Josh Wingrove – The globe and Mail]

March 26, 2010   No Comments

Rwandan President Promises ‘Free And Fair Elections’

The 54th State: Rwandan President promises ‘free and fair elections’

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, at the Commonwealth's headquarters on 8 March 2010“It is our hope that in collaboration with the rest of the Commonwealth family, Rwanda’s efforts in the areas of good governance, private-sector investment and development, democracy, freedoms, and rights, and regional integration, will all be greatly strengthened” – Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, at the Commonwealth’s headquarters on 8 March 2010.

Commonwealth Day 2010 an “important milestone in Rwanda’s transformational journey”, says President Kagame during state visit to Marlborough House

Sixteen years ago, Commonwealth citizens outside of Africa could have been forgiven for knowing little about Rwanda.

The small, rugged East African country had passed through a tumultuous few decades since independence from Belgium and, before that, the fledgling German Empire. Many of the population had been exiled amid a bitter struggle between Hutu and Tutsi. Yet the conflict had rarely made international headlines.

All that changed, notoriously, in the spring of 1994 when the country erupted in violence. Over a hundred days, nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered by government backed militias. Foreign news agencies sent their teams to cover the unfolding genocide as international peacekeeping efforts foundered. The world couldn’t get enough of Rwanda.

Flag-raising ceremony

Last week, the headlines couldn’t have been more contrasting. In place of bulletins about the bloodletting, there were countless column inches dedicated to the country’s inaugural visit to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, United Kingdom, as the association’s newest member.

Kagame

“We want the rest of the world to know Rwanda for good reasons.” – Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

Less than four months since this once French-speaking nation was accepted by Heads of Government in Trinidad and Tobago, President Paul Kagame witnessed on 8 March 2010 the Rwandan tricolour being hoisted into the air on the grounds of Marlborough House as traditional dancers and drummers braved the brisk winter’s day to perform.

“I was very glad to see the flag – our flag, the country’s flag – being raised,” said Mr Kagame, a onetime rebel leader, speaking to Commonwealth News after the ceremony. “The significance of raising the flag reinforces that we are a member of a very big family.”

Freedoms and rights

Rwandan President Paul Kagame with Shaquille Libera, a 12-year old Rwandan boy, on 8th March 2010. Shaquille walked with a Rwandan flag through the gardens of Marlborough House – the Commonwealth’s Headquarters – where it was raised next to the 53 flags representing the other member countries

So continued a whirlwind 36 hours in London for Mr Kagame as the President was shuttled between meetings with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, luncheon with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth, and a reception with high commissioners – not forgetting a public lecture with the Royal Commonwealth Society and a business briefing with investors courtesy of the Commonwealth Business Council.

At the morning’s press conference and flag-raising, Mr Kagame shared a platform with Mr Sharma and Patrick Manning, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister and incumbent Commonwealth Chair-in-Office. But it was the Rwandan President who received the lion’s share of questions from the roomful of camera crews and inquisitive reporters.

“Do you agree that all is not well in the country?” asked one journalist. “I wondered if you could set out for us specifically what you intend to do in order to meet criticisms of failings in the guarantees of human rights and media freedoms in Rwanda?” asked another.

‘Committed to the values of the Commonwealth’

Mr Kagame, keen to point out that Rwanda was not alone in having failings, stressed that the benefits stemming from Commonwealth membership could help address them. Rwanda, he added, had made much progress in rebuilding itself since the killings of 1994, when the “freedoms and rights” of Rwandan citizens were abruptly infringed.

“Each family has its own failings, but when they come together, then they share good practices to overcome those failings, and that is why Rwanda sees it as very important to be part of the Commonwealth. There is a lot we are going to gain from it,” he said, adding: “Rwanda is committed to the values of the Commonwealth.”

Sharma

“We are going to have a very dense roadmap of collaboration with Rwanda, in which I myself and the two Deputy Secretaries-General who are present here will be personally engaged in carrying it forward.” – Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma during press conference on 8 March 2010.

Pledging to take advantage of the Secretariat’s expertise and programmes in youth and education, Mr Kagame, who was elected in 2000, asserted that Commonwealth Day 2010 was an “important milestone in Rwanda’s transformational journey”.

Investment and development

“It is our hope that in collaboration with the rest of the Commonwealth family, Rwanda’s efforts in the areas of good governance, private-sector investment and development, democracy, freedoms, and rights, and regional integration, will all be greatly strengthened,” he said.

Today some 75 per cent of Rwanda’s population is under 30-years-old. Forty per cent were born after the genocide. Statistics show that life expectancy is just 50 years, a modest improvement on the situation in 1970. Seventy-two infants in every 1,000 die prematurely. Meanwhile only 31 in every 1,000 Rwandans have access to the internet.

Yet the country has taken significant strides to deal with the challenges of development and fallout from the genocide. Local gacaca courts have helped communities deal with the dual issues of justice and reconciliation, while legislation on decentralisation and increasing the participation of women in public life has received international praise.

“Rwanda has come a long way,” asserted Mr Kagame. “We now have women having the highest representation in parliament in the whole world, where women are contributing immensely to the social and economic transformation of Rwanda… We have not had this in our history.”

Presidential elections

“We have seen stability, security and the people of Rwanda gaining more confidence than they have ever had in their lives and taking charge of their responsibilities and building their country and moving forward,” he continued. “We are a country that has been realising an average growth of 8 per cent of our GDP for the last seven years.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Mrs Kagame leave the Commonwealth multi-faith Observance, held at Westminster Abbey

“We are a country that has seen basic education go to the level of 92 per cent enrolment in the whole country, and we have raised that from a six-year primary-school education to a nine-year basic education. We have seen health insurance covering 87 per cent of our people. We have seen growth in every sector.”

Mr Kagame, who faces presidential elections this coming August, in January invited Secretary-General Sharma to send a Commonwealth Expert Team to monitor the ballot. The President, speaking to Commonwealth News, was quick to insist that he hoped the poll would be “free and fair”.

“Free and fair elections are important to Rwanda, as they are to any country, and we want to see Rwandans make the choices they want in determining who their leaders become,” he said, evidently eager for his new Commonwealth relatives to leave with the impression that the Rwanda of 2010 is a world away from the Rwanda of 1994.

“In respecting that, we want the rest of the world – which does not know much about Rwanda, which knows Rwanda only for bad reasons – to know Rwanda for good reasons.”

[Commonwealth Secretariat]

March 26, 2010   No Comments

Rwandans In UK To Commemorate Genocide

London – The Rwandan community in the United Kingdom will hold a service to commemorate the victims of the 1994 Genocide.

According to a statement by Rwanda’s High Commissioner to UK, Ernest Rwamucyo, a service will be held on April 7, 2010 at Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge SE1 9DA to honour the victims.

“All Rwandans living in the UK are invited to take part in commemorating and sharing ideas on how they can contribute towards this year’s theme,” the statement reads in part. “Many people tend to think that to commemorate is enough but to do something that can help many lives of people that experienced hard times would help more.” Rwamucyo said in the statement.

Last week, the National Commission to fight against Genocide (CNLG) called on everyone to help those who had not recovered from what they went through during the Genocide.

March 26, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Warm Welcome To Defected FDLR Colonel Rashid Ngoboka

Here is what the editor Linda Kayitesi of the pro-Rwandan government newspaper ‘The New Times’ writes while welcoming back the FDLR Colonel Rashid Ngoboka:

Welcome back home.

I would like to welcome back home, the head of training in the Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD-Urunana), a FDLR faction, Colonel Rashid Ngoboka, who was repatriated back home on Tuesday after handing himself over to MONUC. He’s returned with his family and six armed escorts.

Ngoboka, who left Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi as a 2nd Lieutenant, will probably not believe the progress the country has made since he left.

He left this country in shambles and with blood flowing in the streets, but now he’s coming back just in time to cast his vote in democratic elections.

I sincerely hope that his defection will encourage other misguided Rwandans to come home. Instead of living and dying in inhospitable jungles, why can’t you come back to your farms, businesses and families?

Rwanda needs each and every single man and woman to push in the same direction if we are to develop. Come home and lend your muscles to the cause of Rwandan development.

[TNT]

March 26, 2010   1 Comment