France To Probe Role In Rwanda Genocide

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) meets French representatives of the Ibuka association for the memory of Rwanda’s genocide, two days ahead of the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide, at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris on April 5, 2019. PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday appointed a panel of experts to investigate France’s actions in Rwanda during the country’s genocide 25 years ago, a subject that has dogged Franco-Rwandan relations since the 1994 massacres.

The commission of eight researchers and historians “will be tasked with consulting all France’s archives relating to the genocide… in order to analyse the role and engagement of France during that period,” the presidency said in a statement.

It will look at the period from 1990 to 1994 to “contribute to a better understanding and knowledge of the genocide of Tutsis,” the statement said.

The findings of the researchers, none of them Rwandaexperts, will be used in material used to teach people in France about the genocide, it added.

READ ALSO: British Pound Steadies As Theresa May Seeks New Brexit Delay

Rwanda has accused France of being complicit in the genocide of an estimated 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis through its support for the Hutu-led government of the day.

It also accuses the French forces who were stationed in Rwanda under a UN mandate of having helped some of the perpetrators to escape, with some seeking sanctuary in France, which critics say for years dragged its heels on bringing them to justice.

Macron announced Friday that the judicial unit in charge of prosecuting Rwandan genocide suspects would be boosted so that suspects “could be tried in a reasonable amount of time”.

The creation of the commission and announcement of extra legal resources for genocide cases aim to help further mend the ties between Rwanda and France, which the genocide left in tatters.

Paris has consistently denied claims of complicity in the bloodletting.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the Tutsi rebel force that eventually overthrew the genocidal Hutu regime, broke off ties with France between 2006 and 2009 but relations have improved over the past decade.

Confronting France’s past 

Macron had nonetheless caused disappointment among genocide survivors and experts by turning down an invitation to attend this weekend’s commemorations in Rwanda.

Macron’s office cited scheduling issues and announced that Herve Berville, a young MP of Rwandan origin who was orphaned during the genocide and adopted by a French family, would represent France instead.

The 41-year-old president, who came of age after France’s colonial era, has already gone further than his predecessor in lifting the lid on France’s murky past in Africa.

On Friday, he became the first French president to meet with representatives of Ibuka, the biggest association of Rwanda’s genocide survivors.

And last September he acknowledged that France had instigated a system that facilitated torture during Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war, a conflict that also remains hugely sensitive in France.

He also announced that France would open up its archives on the thousands of civilians and soldiers who went missing during that war.

Franco-Rwandan relations hit their nadir in 2006 after a French judge recommended that Kagame be prosecuted by a UN-backed tribunal over the 1994 killing of Rwanda’s president Juvenal Habyarimana, a moderate Hutu whose death triggered the start of the genocide.

 ‘Errors of judgement’

The turning point came in 2010 when former president Nicolas Sarkozy acknowledged during a visit to Kigali that France had made “serious errors of judgement” in Rwanda.

While falling short of an apology it was seen as a breakthrough in Rwanda, a former Belgian colony which France jealously defended before the genocideas part of its sphere of influence in Africa.

The relationship hit turbulence again however under Socialist president Francois Hollande, before Macron’s election set the stage for a new chapter.

During a visit to Paris last year Kagame appeared impressed by his French counterpart, later praising him for taking a “fresher”, less paternalistic approach to Africa than his forerunners.

“It’s a change from the neo-colonial positions of the past,” he told Jeune Afrique magazine.

AFP

14 Killed In Rwanda Mine Collapse

 

An accident at an eastern Rwanda mine on Monday killed 14 people, including seven women, a local government official said.

“This is an unfortunate event that nobody expected. The accident happened when falling debris at the mining site buried all the 14 people and killed them instantly,” Jean Claude Rwagasana, the official from the Mwulire region told AFP.

He added that rescuers arrived shortly after the incident but could find no survivors. Seven women were among those killed.

The accident took place at a cassiterite mine, a mineral which, along with coltan, is a vital component for the production of phones, digital cameras and electronic products.

Deadly accidents at Rwanda’s mines are not uncommon, with 27 miners killed in 2017, government statistics show.

Last October, eight people were killed and four wounded in a mine collapse in southern Rwanda’s Muhanga district.

Rwanda’s mining board has blamed the industry for the deaths, saying many mines’ underground tunnels lack support and that firms are slow to implement safety standards.

AFP

South Africa To Investigate Mysterious Murder Of Ex-Rwanda Spy Chief

An inquest into the death of an exiled Rwandan ex-spy chief who was found strangled in a luxury Johannesburg hotel in 2014 will open in January, a South African court official said Thursday.

Patrick Karegeya, 53, was living in South Africa when he was killed in a room at the plush Michelangelo Towers hotel in the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton.

“It’s not a trial it’s a formal inquest and it starts on 16 January,” the court official told AFP.

“At this stage we are holding a formal enquiry to ascertain who was responsible for the death,” said the official who did not have permission to speak to the media.

Karegeya was head of external intelligence for nearly a decade before falling out with President Paul Kagame.

In 2007 he fled into exile in South Africa, where he became a fierce critic, describing Kagame as a dictator and alleging he had first-hand knowledge of the state killing of Rwandan dissidents abroad.

Karegeya’s supporters have accused the Rwandan government of being behind his killing.

Another of Kagame’s opponents, former general Kayumba Nyamwasa, survived two assassination attempts in June 2010 in what Pretoria described as an attack by foreign security operatives.

A magistrates court that sentenced four men to eight years in prison for attempted murder in 2014, described the attack as a “politically motivated” assassination plot.

AFP

Rwandan Foreign Minister Elected Francophonie Head

 

The world organization of French-speaking nations on Friday elected Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo as its new head despite her country’s shift to English a decade ago and controversy over its rights record. 

Mushikiwabo was elected in a suspense-free vote on the last day of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) summit in the Armenian capital Yerevan. She will replace Canadian politician Michaelle Jean.

The 57-year-old visited dozens of countries to campaign for support and received the backing of the African Union as well as the crucial support of France.

Ironically Rwanda, a former Belgian colony where French was the lingua franca, switched to English as the language of education in 2008 and joined the Commonwealth a year after.

Her election is a victory for both Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame and French President Emmanuel Macron, who have sought to improve relations between their two nations, long fraught due to Kigali’s accusations of French complicity in the 1994 genocide that killed at least 800,000, mostly Tutsis.

Her candidacy sparked criticism with Rwanda under fire over human rights violations and Kagame’s controversial constitutional changes that allow him to extend his stay in power.

“Rwanda is far from having a political regime that respects individual and political freedoms, while the charter of the Francophonie assigns primary importance to these principles as a core of its fundamental values,” France’s former minister of Cooperation and the Francophonie, Pierre-Andre Wiltzer, told AFP.

“Seeking the leadership of the Francophonie is clearly part of Rwanda’s goal for a greater continental and global role,” said Elissa Jobson who researches the African Union (AU) for the International Crisis Group think tank.

“It’s a significant move given Rwanda’s frosty relations with France, its adoption of English as the country’s main language and its admission to the Commonwealth.”

Established in 1970, the OIF unites the world’s French-speaking countries.

It has 58 members and 26 observers which together account for a population of over 900 million people, including 274 million French speakers.

French is currently the world’s fifth most spoken language after Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic, according to official French estimates.

AFP

IMF Tells Rwanda To Invest In Public Infrastructure

IMF Attributes Nigeria’s Inflation To Forex Challenges

 

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the government of Rwanda to invest in public infrastructure and interventions to promote structural transformation and diversified exports.

The IMF which just concluded the ninth review of Rwanda’s performance under the policy support instrument, says inflation is expected to remain around the authorities’ targeted 5 percent over the medium-term.

IMF expects the Rwandan government’s “vision 2050” to reach middle-income status by 2035, but believes it will require continued reform efforts to create higher value-added economic activity, with the private sector serving as the main engine of growth.

Inflation is expected to remain below the Central Bank’s medium-term target of 5 percent in 2018 but should pick up toward the target over the medium-term.

Rwanda Becomes Arsenal’s Official Tourism Partner

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame

 

Rwanda has become the official tourism partner of English football club Arsenal FC, whose players will sport a “Visit Rwanda” logo on their sleeves, the club announced Wednesday.

The tiny country’s leader, President Paul Kagame, is an ardent Arsenal fan and often expresses his opinions about the club’s performances during summits and on social media.

The three-year deal with Arsenal is the latest bid by Kigali to draw tourists and investors to the country, burnishing its reputation as a safe, sought-after destination.

Ever since the devastating 1994 genocide in which 800,000 mainly Tutsis were killed, the country has been praised for a swift economic turnaround.

“The country has been transformed in recent years and Arsenal’s huge following will bring Rwanda into people’s minds in a new and dynamic way,” Arsenal’s chief commercial officer, Vinai Venkatesham, said in a statement.

“The Arsenal shirt is seen 35 million times a day around the world and we are one of the most viewed teams around the world.”

As the club’s first-ever sleeve partner, the “Visit Rwanda” logo will appear on the shirt of all first team, under-23 and Arsenal Women’s players from the new season this August, the club has announced.

Rwanda Development Board CEO, Clare Akamanzi, said that the sponsorship deal will highlight the country’s tourism offers, but would not be drawn on how much it had cost.

“While we cannot disclose the amount, the partnership cost is part of our marketing budget to promote Rwanda and attract investors and tourists,” she said.

Rwanda is one of only three countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, where one can see mountain gorillas.

The country has in recent years re-introduced lions and rhino to its Akagera National Park — which had gone extinct due to poor conservation — to become a Big Five safari destination.

“In addition, we are telling investors to Visit Rwanda and discover why we are the second fastest growing economy in Africa, growing at 7.3 percent per annum,” said Akamanzi.

She added that Arsenal players from the men’s and women’s teams will visit Rwandaand club coaches will host coaching camps to support the development of football in the country.

Rwanda received 1.3 million visitor arrivals in 2017 and tourism is Rwanda‘s largest foreign exchange earner, government statistics show.

The country has decided to focus on high-end low-impact tourism, and last year doubled the price of a gorilla permit to $1,500 (1,300 euros).

Kagame is revered in some quarters for stopping Rwanda‘s genocide and engineering what admirers see as an economic miracle, but rights groups accuse him of crushing all opposition and ruling through fear.

The 60-year-old won a third-term in office last year after the constitution was changed to allow him to potentially stay in power for another two decades.

AFP

Free Trade Agreement: Nigeria Made A Catastrophic Mistake, Says Economist

 

 

Economist, Tilewa Adebajo has criticised the decision of the Federal Government to withdraw from the signing of the new pan-African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda.

In an interview on Channels Television’s News at 10, Monday, Adebajo described the move as a “catastrophic mistake” especially with Nigeria’s reputation as Africa’s largest economy.

“What is happening here for me is a very catastrophic mistake on our path in terms of the way we’ve handled this whole process.

“We are the largest economy in Africa and we are the largest economy in Africa and when something like this is happening, we have to take the leadership role,” he said.

Speaking Further, Adebajo noted that the move had cast a shadow on Nigeria’s reputation.

He also stressed the importance of signing the agreement as well as the need to sustain its position as Africa’s leading nation.

Read Also: Why Nigeria Backed Down From Signing Pan-African Continental Free Trade Area

“As you’ve seen from your documentary, this was an agreement that went through the Federal Executive Council Process.

“Now what does it say about the Federal Executive Council – is it that there is no organisation? It doesn’t even reflect the current administration in good light, not to talk about the international diplomacy that we’ve lost.

“There are other Heads of States waiting for us in Kigali and these sort of negotiations take so many man hours.

“I think it’s important that Nigeria shows leadership coz I think the numbers are staggering. Right now, intra- Africa trade is only 170 billion.

“The total value of trade within Africa is about 1.7 trillion. If we get into this agreement, we are going to create a trading zone worth about 3.5 trillion dollars with a population of about 1.2 billion which is highly competitive with that of the European Union.”

His comments came few hours after the government disclosed that Nigeria had backed down from the process in order to allow for more time for broader consultations on the provisions of the treaty.

Also, in an email sent to Channels Television on Monday, Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe explained that the decision was in the interest of the nation and to “deepen, intensify and extend the scope of consultations on a number of areas.”

The areas listed included sectoral and systemic issues, as well as the ”aggregated and granular effects” of the new free trade deal for Nigeria’s “fiscal, structural and monetary policies,” Osakwe said.

He, however, added that Nigeria will not be absent in Kigali as the foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama will be representing the country and supported by a Nigerian team.

Why Nigeria Backed Down From Signing Pan-African Continental Free Trade Area

Muhammadu Buhari, Owed Debt, States

 

Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe says the country’s decision to back down from this week’s signing of the new pan-African continental free trade area in Rwanda, was “in the national interest of a great and diverse country”.

In an email sent in response to Channels Television’s enquiry on Monday, Osakwe said the government wants to “deepen, intensify and extend the scope of consultations on a number of areas.”

The areas listed include sectoral and systemic issues, as well as the ”aggregated and granular effects” of the new free trade deal for Nigeria’s “fiscal, structural and monetary policies”.

He, however, added that Nigeria will not be absent in Kigali as the foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama will be representing the country and supported by a Nigerian team.

The Federal Executive Council had on Wednesday last week, approved for the President to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

But a statement signed on Sunday by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tope Adeleye, noted that the trip had been cancelled.

According to Adeleye, certain key stakeholders in the country indicated that they had not been consulted, and therefore had some concerns on the provisions of the treaty.

Consequently, the development was to allow more time for broader consultations and input from the stakeholders.
All leaders of Africa’s 55 countries are expected at the event in Kigali.

The AfCFTA will make the continent the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

The launch will take place at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Heads of State of the African Union convened by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the new Chairperson of the AU who said of the AfCFTA: “This is a historic pact which has been nearly 40 years in the making, and it represents a major advance for African integration and unity.”

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki, says the African Continental Free Trade Area will also strengthen Africa’s position in global trade.

“AfCFTA will make Africa one of the largest economies in the world and enhance its capacity to interact on equal terms with other international economic blocs.”

On the 20th of March, a day before the signing, government delegations will join Africa’s top business leaders and other stakeholders to exchange views on the continent’s economic transformation through trade at a special day of celebration and dialogue called the AfCFTA Business Summit.

Buhari Cancels Trip To Rwanda

Buhari Directs MDAs To Defend Budgets Before NASS
File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda, where he was expected to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union scheduled for March 21, 2018.

The Federal Executive Council had on Wednesday, approved for the President to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

But a statement signed on Sunday by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tope Adeleye, noted that certain key stakeholders in Nigeria indicated that they had not been consulted, and therefore had some concerns on the provisions of the treaty.

Consequently, the development was to allow more time for broader consultations and input from the stakeholders.

All leaders of Africa’s 55 countries are expected at the event in Kigali.

The AfCFTA will make the continent the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

The launch will take place at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Heads of State of the African Union convened by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the new Chairperson of the AU who said of the AfCFTA: “This is a historic pact which has been nearly 40 years in the making, and it represents a major advance for African integration and unity.”

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki, says the African Continental Free Trade Area will also strengthen Africa’s position in global trade.

“AfCFTA will make Africa one of the largest economies in the world and enhance its capacity to interact on equal terms with other international economic blocs.”

On the 20th of March, a day before the signing, government delegations will join Africa’s top business leaders and other stakeholders to exchange views on the continent’s economic transformation through trade at a special day of celebration and dialogue called the AfCFTA Business Summit.

Lightning Strikes, Kills 16 In Rwanda Church

Lightning Strikes, Kills 16 In Rwanda Church
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

At least 16 people were killed and dozens more injured after lightning struck a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Rwanda, a local official said Sunday.

Fourteen victims were killed on the spot as lightning hit the church in the Nyaruguru district in the Southern Province on Saturday, local mayor Habitegeko Francois told AFP over the phone.

Two others died later from their injuries, he said.

He added that 140 people involved in the incident had been rushed to hospital and district health centres, but that many had already been discharged.

“Doctors say that only three of them are in critical condition but they are getting better,” he said.

According to the mayor, a similar accident took place on Friday when lightning struck a group of 18 students, killing one of them.

AFP

Rwanda To Shut 700 Churches Over Alleged Poor Hygiene

rwanda
FILE PHOTO Rwanda President, Paul Kagame Photo Credit: AFP

 

Rwandan authorities said Wednesday that 714 churches and one mosque would be shut in Kigali for allegedly failing to meet safety and hygiene standards.

“Some churches conduct their worship services in shoddy and unclean structures, to the detriment of people’s health and safety,” said Anastase Shyaka, head of the Rwanda Governance Board, which monitors public and private organisations.

“Cases of noise pollution have also been reported while some operate without the required operation permits,” he added.

He said the shutdown — which mainly affects Pentecostal churches — would go into effect Thursday. The churches have been asked to “halt operations until they meet the requirements.”

Most of the churches that will be closed are small, with congregations of hundreds of worshippers.

The crackdown is also expected to affect churches outside the capital in the coming months.

Church representatives criticised the move, saying authorities were being too strict.

“Those that failed to implement a few requirements should be reopened and allowed to work while fixing the problems raised,” said Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, president of the Churches’ Forum in Nyarugenge district, which includes Kigali.

Starting a church in Rwanda requires a government certificate that expires after one year.

Rwanda is also preparing a new law on the operations of faith-based organisations, which is likely to make it harder for new churches to be created.

The reason, government says, is that some preachers “deceive their congregation with misleading sermons.”

Some preachers accuse authorities of trying to control the message they send to their congregations, in a country often accused by rights groups of stifling free speech.

When the law is passed, as expected this year, preachers will be required to undertake theology courses.

Early this month, Rwanda suspended a Christian radio station for airing a preacher who delivered a “hateful” live sermon against women.

AFP

Rwanda Shuts Down Radio Station For Denigrating Women

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame

 

Rwanda’s media watchdog has ordered a US-owned Christian radio station shut for three months after a “vile” sermon against women, it said Monday.

The radio station, Amazing Grace FM, broadcast a sermon by local pastor Nicolas Niyibikora on January 29, in which he called women dangerous, evil and against the plans of God.

The broadcast sparked outrage and prompted separate complaints from the National Women’s Association and the Women’s Journalist Association to the Rwanda Media Commission, which oversees journalist ethics.

“The sermon was denigrating women in the most vile manner,” commission chief Edmund Kagire said in a statement on Monday, demanding the station and preacher “issue a public apology for the damage they have caused.”

The radio station is owned by American evangelist Gregg Schoof, who has been previously warned for airing inflammatory shows. Schoof said he condemned any denigration of women.

Rwanda has exerted strong control over its media since the 1994 genocide when hate speech on radio stations was used to encourage killings.

AFP