In today’s monthly press conference, President Kagame addressed recent changes in government, Rwanda/France relations, China/Rwanda relations, the economy, Sudan’s application to join the East African Community, the proposed trial in Rwanda of former Chadian President Hissène Habré, among others.
President Kagame said that recent changes in government are aimed at injecting more energy and efficiency in service delivery;
“Players don’t have to play in one place or in one team all the time. They may be moved to where it is thought that they can make a better contribution – changes will be made when deemed necessary.”
Concerning the request by the African Union for Rwanda to try former Chadian President Hissène Habré, President Kagame said that the AU made the request because they judged that Rwanda has the capacity to handle the trial, based on different indicators.
On Rwanda-France relations, President Kagame reiterated that Rwanda was not interested in being a captive of history, but pointed out that what happened in the past should not be completely forgotten.
“With France, there were negotiations to clear outstanding issues and tackle them, focusing on the future. The facts are there about what happened and it’s not easy to wish them away.”
President Kagame said the recent ‘confession’ on the 1994 plane crash of former President Habyarimana is a non-issue that did not merit a response.
On relations between Rwanda and South Africa, President Kagame stated that these were steadily improving and what is reported in the media has no substance.
“South African police and authorities were quite clear about the issues raised in the media and it’s clear that there is a reason why these issues keep being recycled, where what should be nothing is treated as something. Our policy is to concentrate on what matters for Rwandans and let those interested in chasing air carry on until they tire.”
On Rwanda maintaining economic stability amidst economic turmoil in the region and globally, President Kagame said;
“Rwanda is not an island, we are affected by what happens in the wider region. This calls for even deeper integration so that we can join efforts and learn from each other in order to solve our challenges. What is happening has a wider context and we have to be cautious as we approach integration and look at what works for all of us and what doesn’t.”
On expansion of the East African Community, and the application from Sudan, President Kagame said;
”The application by Sudan to join the East African Community should be viewed in a positive light because although expansion comes with challenges, it also comes with benefits. There are opportunities that come with working together, we can work together and deal with the challenges”.
Clarifying Rwanda’s rationale in supporting NATO intervention in Libya, President Kagame said that Rwanda considered the broader picture;
“A change was happening, effected by Libyans themselves and they had all the rights to their aspirations. Whether or not they were helped by people with double standards, the fact remains that intervention fits within the aspirations of the Libyans. Time will tell the rest and the Libyans are the best placed to judge the situation.”
Concerning Libyan investments in Rwanda, President Kagame said there was consultation by both sides and that Rwanda will work with the new Libyan leadership on the way forward.
On the decisions by French courts not to extradite genocide suspects, among them Agathe Habyarimana, President Kagame said that this boils down to contempt from those who think they are the ones to set standards for others.
“Justice for genocide should not be trivialised. We may understand their refusal to extradite suspects to Rwanda for reasons known only to them, but why wouldn’t they then want to try them in their perfect courts? This is disturbing because the decision not to extradite does not in any way make the suspects innocent.”
On the cessation of refugee status for Rwandans expected to be effected by UNHCR next year, President Kagame said this is something that has been agreed in principle.
“The time to enforce cessation may vary due to different reasons but eventually no Rwandan should be called a refugee since there is no longer any reason for this.”
President Kagame said that concerns about China’s growing influence in Africa were one sided because China, Rwanda or any other country are not working in isolation:
“Why would people question what China is doing with Africa and not question what China is doing with the West? The much talked about re-colonisation of Africa fails to recognize the fact that there was colonisation before and it hasn’t completely vanished. The Chinese have provided an alternative by putting money where Rwandans and Africans want it, areas that others have neglected. Africa needs to get over the victim position and be assertive and articulate what we want. We should not blame anybody for allowing ourselves to be exploited for such a long time.”
President Kagame clarified his investment in the Bank of Kigali IPO, saying it was about offering support to the nascent Capital Market and that there were thorough consultations about the legality of the action before the investment was made.
“My involvement in this IPO was not about business. It was about nurturing the IPO business as a whole. I was asked to serve this public purpose and I am glad I did it and that it was successful.”
President Kagame also congratulated President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson on being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and affirmed that it was important not only for the women of African, but for marginalised women the world over, including in developed nations that still had low female representation in decision-making positions.