President Paul Kagame was in London today, on Monday 8 March, as part of Rwanda’s formal acceptance into the Commonwealth of Nations. The President, accompanied by Mrs Jeannette Kagame took part in the official ceremony that saw the Rwandan national flag raised next to the other Commonwealth member states.
The Rwandan President started the day with a press conference standing side-by-side with Prime Minister Manning of Trinidad and Tobago and Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat. The conference ? attended by around 50 media representatives ? was to formally introduce Rwanda into the Commonwealth.
Prime Minister Manning said, ?it gives me great pleasure in my capacity as Chair in Office and on behalf of fellow Commonwealth leaders to extend a very warm welcome to His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and to convey sincere congratulations his country on its admittance as the 54th member of Commonwealth of Nations. Today’s historic ceremony, the raising of the flag of Rwanda here on the grounds of Marlborough House, has indeed now consummated the acceptance by the Commonwealth of Rwanda as one amongst a family of equals.
He was followed by the Secretary General, who said, “The Commonwealth decision to welcome Rwanda was a collective act of goodwill and of affirmation, and a willingness to engage on the values the Commonwealth embraces. It was a recognition of the hills, Mr President, which your country has climbed, and a commitment to climb further with you.
The three men then addressed the High Commission in London, which was represented by ambassadors of the 54 Commonwealth countries, before heading to the gardens of Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Secretariat headquarters the flag of Rwanda was formally raised.
President Kagame said, “For us, joining the Commonwealth is an important milestone in our development journey. It means that we enter a unique and diverse family, with whom similar values and aspirations are shared, and which provides a wide range of opportunities for mutual collaboration and advancement. Our vision for Rwanda is of a country open to these opportunities, which will better the lives of our people and drive forward our nations socio-economic transformation.”
The President continued, “Even with our ambitious development vision, we are acutely aware of the challenges before us. In dealing with our particular circumstances, we draw from solutions embedded in our culture, but also maximize on the lessons that can be learnt from others.”
Soon after the Flag Raising Ceremony President Kagame and Mrs Kagame met Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth, at Buckingham Palace. Thereafter, President Kagame traveled to Westminster Abbey to participate in a multi-faith service with The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales all present and where the 2010 theme of the Commonwealth, “Science, Technology and Society”, was formally announced.
Following the service, President Kagame attended a reception at Marlborough House hosted by HM The Queen and her husband, HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The reception was attended by over 300 Commonwealth dignitaries invited specially by Buckingham Palace. The reception presented an opportunity for President Kagame to begin to build key relationships with the other Commonwealth members.
Click here to listen to President Kagame’s remarks at the Flag Raising ceremony and Press Conference and hereto read the speech.