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Rwanda-China ties to be boosted by CPPCC visit to Kigali

A high-level Chinese delegation headed by Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Li Zhaozhuo, met in Kigall Friday with Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza and parliament leaders.

Makuza commended the economic and social achievements China has made over the past decades. On bilateral relations, Makuza gave positive assessment of the Rwanda-China ties and stressed the importance of boosting mutual support in international affairs.

The Rwandan government and people must thank China for its unwavering support to the country as it went through different stages of development.

Makuza said he was optimistic about stronger ties with China, hoping for closer collaboration between the two countries, particularly in fields such as economics and trade, agriculture and energy, based on the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit.

The Rwandan government and people will continue to support the one- China policy and respect China’s position and will on issues concerning its core interests, he added.

Li agreed with Makuza on his positive assessment of Sino-Rwandan relations, saying the two sides have long understood and supported each other on political issues, carried out fruitful and diversified cooperation in economics and trade, and maintained close coordination in international affairs.

He said China appreciates Rwanda’s firm and long-standing support for China on issues concerning its core interests such as Taiwan and Tibet. It wishes to carry on the present positive trend in Sino-Rwandan relations within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation framework.

Li also introduced China’s socialist democracy and political consultation system to President of the Senate Vincent Biruta and President of the Chamber of Deputies Rose Mukantabana.

He said the CPPCC looks forward to furthering exchanges and friendship with the Rwandan parliament.

Rwanda is the second leg of Li’s three-nation Africa tour, which had brought him to Ghana. He will also visit Mozambique.

[Xinhua]

February 20, 2011   No Comments

Dutch Minister Knapen concerned about freedom rights in Rwanda

“Rwanda cannot be captured in one-liners”, concluded Ben Knapen, Dutch minister for International Cooperation and European Affairs after a whirlwind visit to the country. This tiny central African nation manages to polarise opinions in the Netherlands. On the one hand the Rwandan government is admired for the rapid economic growth after the country was destroyed by the genocide and war of 1994. But others accuse the leaders in the capital Kigali of intolerance and harassing anyone who criticises them.

By Ilona Eveleens, Kigali

In a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and other government officials Minister Knapen expressed the Netherlands’ worries over the limited freedom of expression in Rwanda. “We are concerned about the reaction to different opinions”, remarked Knapen in an interview with Radio Netherlands. But he added that one should also have some understanding for fear and insecurity after the genocide.

The Dutch public opinion is up in arms about the incarceration of Victoire Ingabire, a Rwandan opposition leader, accused of conspiring with ethnic Hutu extremists. She is in prison since mid-October awaiting trial. Mrs Ingabire already lived in the Netherlands before the genocide in 1994 and only returned to Rwanda early last year when she tried to participate in the presidential elections in vain.

Sensitive government

Minister Knapen not only expressed his worry about the lack of freedom of expression to Kagame. He also raised the issue with the Rwandan minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karagurama. The case of two local journalists, recently convicted to 17 and 7 years imprisonment for incitement, was discussed. Knapen: “Minister Karagurama told me he himself was baffled by the sternness of the sentences”.

The Rwandan government is sensitive to criticism of the local media after media hate speeches in 1994 contributed to the execution of the genocide. More than 800.000 ethnic Tutsi’s and moderated Hutu’s were slaughtered within 3 months by the Hutu-extremists.

Public opinion

Instigators of the genocide fled to neighbouring Congo and organised themselves in what is presently known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Its militias are held responsible for crimes against humanity in Congo. The government in Kigali considers them as a threat to the security of Rwanda.

Kigali also worries about other elements of the former extremist regime who fled to North America and Europe. They are amongst the lobbyists who try to influence public opinion in the West to demand an end to financial aid to Rwanda, while accusing president Kagame of being a dictator.

Almost seventeen years after the genocide reconciliation between the different ethnic groups in Rwanda has not been achieved. Knapen, who met during his tour people involved in trying to bring Hutu and Tutsi together, said: “Reconciliation is a very thin layer. A lot more work needs to be done”.

[Radio Netherlands Worldwide]

February 20, 2011   2 Comments