Kigali, 23 June 2011

President Kagame today held a press conference at Village Urugwiro where he responded to questions on a range of issues from local, regional and international press. Among the issues he expounded on included his succession preference, regional integration, China’s trade with Africa, reports by Human Rights and Amnesty International on Rwanda among other issues.

Speaking on concerns especially originating from the West that China’s interest in Rwanda and Africa was a new form of colonialism, President Kagame said that Africa should not accept any kind of colonialism; whether old or new. The President said that Africans should be the ones to take a strong stand and firm stand shape their destiny as equal players in global issues. “You can’t have a continent of a billion people and abundant resources as a place that has no people. For us it should be about fairness, dignity and justice – whether it’s China or the West, we need to do business that benefits all of us because the days of colonialism are over. Whoever brings investments on terms where everybody will fairly benefit then we sit and discuss business. If not, then we have the right to decline”.

President Kagame said that Rwanda Day that happened in Chicago was a resounding success and all the intended objectives were achieved. The President said that the main aim of holding the day was to open channels of communication between the Rwandan Diaspora and their country so that there can be a stronger connection. “We had open dialogue, issues that need to be worked on were pointed out, and explanations were given where needed. There was a lot of frank exchanges between Rwandans and friends of Rwanda”.

President Kagame played down feelings that implementation of protocols agreed upon by East African Community nations was slow yet there was a rush to sign more: “The integration process is a complex excise because it involves millions of people who have different understand and opinions. The pace is going to be determined by the realities that we find on the way – there are certain things that we can do to push things while there others that will be determined by realities on the ground. Nonetheless we do our best to create a framework and communicate with each other about what we need to do to speed up the process. But it’s good to set timelines to create a certain level of ambition so that you can be able to look back and understand what went wrong in case you miss the deadline”.

Concerning the false allegations that Rwanda had sent assassins to the UK to kill Rwandans dissidents, President Kagame said that there were so many inconsistencies that made it clear that the claims were a fabrication. The President wondered why the police arrested and released the suspect immediately: “There are so many unclear issues about these claims; why did the British police deduce that the person they arrested was working for Rwanda? If a Rwandan civil servant is arrested for committing a crime, should it be immediately seen that he working on behalf of the government? The continued to circulate the claims yet they had already released the suspect – doesn’t this show that there was something suspicious here? We know that these claims started way before the arrest of the so called suspect which shows there was a clear buildup of events”. President Kagame said that the said assassination targets were not known to the government until their names appeared in the media. The President said that the only aim of the masterminds of these fabrications was to make Rwandans lose focus so that their progress is derailed.

President Kagame clarified that the cessation clause did not imply that a deadline for refugee repatriation but the end for Rwandans being referred to as refugees: “Rwanda has done a lot to prepare the ground for all Rwandan nationals to cease being refugees. What is going to change is that no Rwandan will be called a refugee – which does not mean that people cannot live out of the country. Whoever decides to live out of Rwanda should either do so as a Rwandan national or be referred to as something else”.

President Kagame dismissed reports recently released by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Human Rights and Gacaca courts: “These organizations have failed to be consistent with Rwanda’s progress. While Rwanda has made big progress 17 years later, they are still judging Rwanda by what it was 17 ago. These reports even contradict themselves by highlighting what has achieved by and yet produce trash at the other end – it’s difficult to understand this. The report says a lot about those who write it. My job is to spend my time making sure that Rwandans make a difference for themselves and we move forward”.