Kigali, 8 November 2011
President Kagame today said that one of the biggest lessons learnt by Rwandans in the courseof restoring peace and rebuilding their nation is that there is no magic formula or one-size-fits-all solution. Opening the High Level Meeting on Post-Conflict Peacebuilding which saw the participation of President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro of Cote d’Ivoire, UN Assistant Secretary General for Peacebuilding Judy Cheng-Hopkins, President Kagame said;
“A country’s response to a given situation should be informed by its specific circumstances and context. Success will be determined by the country’s practical experience and solutions, based on the choices it makes, and, above all, the genuine aspirations of its people”.
Sharing Rwanda’s experience, President Kagame underlined that national ownership, consensus and community-led initiatives have enabled the country to make modest progress;
“In offering our experience, we are mindful that this is only a modest contribution to the collective search for what works for all of us. Indeed, our efforts are still work in progress and we continue to learn from both our successes and mistakes, and those of others”
President Kagame pointed out that post-conflict nation building was a complex and challenging task which in the case of Rwanda consisted of more than creating institutions and a functioning government:
“It has also meant bringing on board non-state actors, reconstructing the country’s social fabric and establishing mechanisms for social and economic development. In the early phases, we had to do this while dealing with cross border incursions and atrocities by the same forces who committed the genocide”.
Responding to a question on national ownership during the lively interactive session moderated by the BBC’s Zeinab Badawi, President Kagame said that the issue should be properly contextualized;
“Donors would be right to say they cannot give money blindly to a country that has weak institutions and corruption, as there is likelihood that money will be lost. This puts the onus on us to merit being given money and manage it, which brings about ownership. Ownership comes along with showing that you have and can exercise responsibility. Proving that if you are given money, you will not use it wrongly; set up mechanisms to ensure money goes where it should go. Not only should we be managing funds with accountability and responsibility, but we should be doing it in a way that will allow us to need less money and not more, leading to breaking the cycle of dependency”.
Addressing participants, Burundian President Nkurunziza said that Rwanda’s journey towards reconciliation, reconstruction and peace building was inspirational. Sharing the experience of his country, President Nkurunziza said that Burundi has suffered years of barbarism when Burundians forgot about their common heritage; unity and hatred took the place of social cohesion and compassion.
“May I take this opportunity to thank the Late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and regional leaders who helped Burundians to start negations towards ending conflict. Burundians are now aware that cohabitating peacefully is a categorical imperative and have embraced reconciliation. They are now very pleased by how institutions like the defence and security forces have been reformed and rehabilitated to inspire confidence of all Burundians.”
The Ivorian Premier Guillaume Soro said that as a country just recovering from post-election violence, Cote D’Ivoire was ready to draw lessons from Rwanda. He also pointed out that African countries were experimenting with different models of governance and would certainly find a formula that works, including building the required institutions and getting the people to manage them
“We have made some progress so far…the country is now secure but we still have a long way to go. Economic activities are underway and the government has embarked on a programme to overhaul the country’s infrastructure as well as a sustainable reconciliation process.”
The peacebuilding meeting continues on Wednesday with discussions focussed on innovative approaches to statebuilding and socio-economic development; and strategic use of development aid.