Kigali, 26 February 2013

I’m Collin Haba from the New Times. Mr. President there is a debate that has been going on for quite a bit about what will happen after 2017. One of the key issues here is that especially during your citizen outreach there were residents asking you to stand and yet the constitution gives a maximum of 2 terms but at the end of the day one of the key things is the strength of the institutions we have. How would you rate the capacity of our institutions to manage these transition come 2017? Thank you

President Kagame: It is good that you bring up this issue, as you rightly say, is a debate going around. Let me also say if we were to be honest and if my memory serves me well; I read on newspapers and listen to radios; to say I started the debate is half true. You actually started the debate; you members of the press, media and many others. I have been asked these questions of term limits, whether I’m going or not going. Do you know how many years it is now that I have been asked these same questions? I was asked these questions even before I finished my first term, you are aware of that and in the second term I have been asked this and other questions all the time. So I am not the one starting but rather participating in this debate.

On the 8th of February, I invited leaders from my party at different levels many of them we call it expanded NEC; national executive committee, I think they are close to 2000 people. The intention of RPF and my intention as well, was to put this matter into some perspective because it was unnecessarily creating diversion as well as confusion as you also pointed out it has been affecting citizens. They hear questions, many times on radio being asked; are you going? Aren’t you going? When are you going? The ordinary citizens when I visit the countryside say; we hear people asking you, are you going, when are you going, where are you going? It’s like saying those telling you are the least concerned, we are the ones most concerned. I am telling you my honest views about it.

For how long do we go with this kind of confusion without putting it into some kind of perspective without managing it? I read papers every other day and recently I saw somebody who is supposed to be educated saying while the constitution says this, it is clear, why is the President be bothered, why would he be bothered.? How can the President not be bothered? The responsibility of the President is to be bothered about the rights of the citizens; the respect of the constitution, the implications of anything that touches the constitution or the rest of the citizens are absolutely the responsibilities of the President; the wellbeing, the security, and everything of the citizens of the country. So how can somebody say, why is the President bothered?  I would ask, why is he bothered himself, the one asking the question, who has far less responsibility than the President? I’m absolutely bothered about what is happening and what will happen is number, the first person to be bothered is the President. So I am bothered about where we have come from, where we are and where we are going.  That is what I have been hired for in this responsibility I have today.

The reason I raise these questions is so that we don’t have a President who is not bothered come my time of departure, you will have gotten a worse deal in your lifetime if that is the case then.  That point has to be very clear.

In that debate some people say there was ambiguity and that is a matter of choosing to see it that way but in my view, there wasn’t any ambiguity in what I raised in that meeting that underlies the debate that followed after.  I made three very clear points that are important to me as a matter of responsibility for this country or even as a citizen of this country. One, I raised the issue of change, which is indeed detailed in the Constitution; term limits, 2017; what is expected come 2017 is change. Then I talked about continuity, meaning continuity of progress the country has been making which I believe has been the case but of course you may differ with me. Number three, I talked about stability. So Rwanda needs change, continuity and stability.

Rwanda’s situation is very complex; you can even call it complicated if you want. We have a history that is so complex that it’s so complicated. If you approached it in a business as usual manner, I don’t think you are likely to make progress. In a way, we find ourselves in this unique way which will also be found in how we do business and how we do our affairs. The issue of saying there is ambiguity, well look at me, I’m not the person who needs a third term, I don’t do this job I’m doing as a job for being paid or as something that benefits me or pleases someone else. I don’t need your third term. I don’t go there to address people because I want a third term, I want to do my business from which the people of Rwanda entrusted me to carry out and when done I will be done. I will continue to serve my country in different roles and different ways. Let us not trivialize it, meaning taking matters of national importance and trivialize the well being, the security, the future of 11 million Rwandans and make it a one person wanting this and that. The whole essence of what the country should be doing or direction it should be following is lost and we have this one thing going round instead of looking at the future of this country. I am thinking about the future of Rwanda and not the third term.

As you know, just like in this room, or in the other room where we had a discussion, you talk to 2000 people and when they get out of the room they have 2000 versions of what was talked about.  My version was very clear and straight forward, I said everything I had to say and I meant everything I said. I was there to say what I had to say and not what other people want to hear from me, there is a difference. I don’t necessarily go to a place to tell people what they want to hear from me but what I want them to hear from me. There should be no different versions to that magnitude about what I said much as what I said and because of the situation and complexity of it, the matter doesn’t necessarily get clear to everyone. Maybe that is why some confused people get even more confused but I am not responsible for that.

Since I have been asked these questions all the time, whether here or outside, I have responded to that in a way that puts the task on them to think about it and to be the ones who answer it, so that I can settle and do my business which these Rwandans elected me to do.

Is there any other thing that is ambiguous about that because I have time to make further clarification? I know we have 30 versions of what I said, and by the time we leave this room I want to have narrowed those versions down but most importantly this Rwanda that has suffered for long, I think needs to be treated with a lot of respect and thought of very carefully and treated as important.  Our future and the lives of our people is key and should not depend on semantics and some intellectual versions of how things should be looked at or even done.

If you aren’t satisfied, we can come back to the question.

Jean Bosco Gatete, Umurinzi: Thank you Mr. President. I would like to first say thank you for your recent upcountry trips and the concrete solutions you bring to issues resulting from injustice. My question has to do with an issue of injustice that has occurred with participation of the justice system.  I want to give you an example because I know you fight against all injustice.

There is a man named Kanimba John, known by the name Chez John in Kicukiro District. This old man had a problem with his company which makes furniture and he lost a trial of 30 million RWF. The problem occurred when his collateral was auctioned off as they knowingly included a building that did not belong to him but to his neighbor. His neighbor was taken out of his home and his belongings thrown out.

President Kagame: On cases such as these, we have people who can take it up. I cannot give you a full answer as I have only heard your version. It is your understanding and your view of this situation but I am not sure that it is true. I want to know if there is injustice in this case and follow it up. It is not something I can answer here. If it’s a question of justice, I cannot give a useful answer here. What I can say is that you can give us your complaint and we will follow it up.

Jean Bosco Gatete, Umurinzi: Thank you Mr. President, I had also brought photographs as proof.

President Kagame: Regardless of what you have brought, it is not the full explanation. You can give all the proof you have [to Minister]

Thank you Your Excellency. My name is Ufitinema Remy Maurice. My question is regarding the recently signed agreement in Ethiopia on Congo. What can Rwandans expect from these agreements especially when it comes to the insecurity caused by FDLR? What should they expect when it comes to the effects of the conflict in Eastern DRC in Rwanda including the accusations that Rwanda is involved? What are your thoughts on the current conflict in Congo?

President Kagame: I am not in charge of Congo. It would be better to ask the Congolese about Congo. The agreements we signed in Ethiopia were called Peace Framework of DRC, were meant to see how neighboring countries or other countries in Africa can help contribute to peace in DRC. The problems in DRC not only negatively affect Congolese but also the neighboring countries. What happens in neighboring countries can also have an effect on Congo. For example, when Rwanda has Interahamwe, FDLR who came from Rwanda in Congo, it also affects Congo showing that there are consequences of what happened in Rwanda that also affect Congo. This is why neighbors also play a role, work together for peace because when there is peace in Congo there is peace in neighboring countries. The same way if there were more problems in Congo’s neighboring countries, the problems of Congo would worsen.  Those are the agreements we signed. When these peace agreements are a result of discussion, owned by all signatories, every country benefits. Rwanda will benefit peace, that is what we understand or at least hope because in these agreements, the issue of  Interahamwe or FDLR is addressed in a collaborative manner. Even if it was not dealt with in this way, discussing this issue and understanding is a useful step. That is what Rwandans will gain from it. The issue will be known and an effort to look for solution based on collaboration with regional countries and others.

Thank you very much; I am Jenny Clover from Reuters. I wanted to ask two related questions about political opposition in Rwanda. Earlier this week there were reports that opposition figures in South Africa were meeting with a view to coming back to Rwanda. I just wondered what your views are on those reports.  And secondly, sort of related but different question. Would you like to see more opposition parties being registered in Rwanda ahead of the elections this year?

President Kagame: Opposition figures in South Africa wanting to come to Rwanda, they are welcome, in any form and shape and in any way. Whether they come peacefully or through other means, they are welcome. We will welcome them in the manner they will be coming to Rwanda. On that one I think it is as simple as that. I even always wonder why they have to live outside. They need to come and live here and face the challenges other Rwandans face.

The second one, if I want to see more opposition, I don’t know what this means. I am not responsible for the opposition. I am not in the opposition. As you say, if there are opposition groups around, whether they are three, or four or five or twenty, I know some would want even hundreds of them but the opposition, I don’t create the opposition. Opposition should develop and be there as of and by themselves. As I have seen, we are used to people from outside and also in the media, opposition as something that we should create or they should create. The media or other s can keep creating as many opposition as they want, for me I welcome them. Opposition, what does it even mean? Opposition parties. It is very strange. People tend to tell us that as many opposition or groups we have, the more democratic we are. And they have as few as, they never go beyond two or three actually groups. These advocates of so many opposition groups, they are always swinging between two and three. They have two main ones known then they have other ones called independent s, who disappear one time and come back another time but the main ones are always two or three. But for Africa and for Rwanda, there should be hundreds. In actual fact, it’s interesting, I have seen countries even in our neighborhood who have hundreds of opposition groups yet I have never seen them referred to as the most democratic countries we have around, on the contrary. So what is this whole thing about opposition? So my sister, the opposition, if you have some you want to introduce you are welcome. There is a place for them.

Felix Tchoumou-Radio Tele Congo (Brazza): Mr. President, for the past three years, Rwanda is turning toward the Atlantic coast, most notably in the development of its relationship between Kigali-Brazzaville.  Not long ago, you visited President Sassou Nguesso village of Oyo. My question, in your diplomatic and political strategy, what does the Kigali-Brazzaville relationship represents. For the population of both countries, when will they feel the tangible results of this relationship? This is my first question; I will ask the second question next.

President Kagame: I don’t think it is the first time we are relating to countries on the Atlantic coast. We have had this relationship for a very long time. In fact we used to be members of one organization that bring all those, most of those countries on the Atlantic coast. What was the name of this? CEAC or something. We used to be member of that. It means maybe we are going back to what we used to be related to. It’s not a new thing. In fact we also have, it’s really a relationship on our continent, and it has nothing to do with being on the western or eastern coast. Even we have relations with people as far as Senegal, we have an embassy there. Why would people be surprised that we are relating to countries on our continent when we relate to countries outside our continent? We have good relationship with Congo Brazzaville, we even have an airline serving between here and Brazzaville and it goes up to Libreville and different places. We have other going down south to South Africa. We relate for different reasons sometimes but mainly for similar reasons with the rest of the countries on our continent.  There is really not much else I can say about that.

You said you have another question. You want to bring at the end or now. So you have a similar problem as me, you have to keep benefitting from translation.

Felix Tchoumou-Radio Tele Congo (Brazza): Thank you Mr. President. My second question is that we recognize and we see it and people say that in Africa and even outside of Africa Rwanda is a clean country. It is a clean country socially, physically and maybe even mentally.  You have succeeded somewhere many of your counterparts have not been able to.  There are many who are embarrassed when they look at the results of these politics in Rwanda. I would like to know what your recipe to succeed in making Rwanda a clean country, clean in quotation as it cannot be clean at 100%. What is your recipe, which could one day be in a book titled “How I defeated bad governance and corruption?” Maybe this would be African and non-African leaders to better manage their country.

President Kagame: Thank you for the good comments. We are trying, Rwanda, we are trying. I don’t us to be compared with others. When one does it, it’s as if it introduces a bad taste for nothing. I want us to be judged on what we are doing, on the results we are getting out of what we are doing for ourselves. What I can say here is people should be asking themselves if that’s what they want. If Rwanda can be this clean, or can fight corruption and makes good progress and benefit from it and you appreciate it. The main thing I would encourage would be people to say, if Rwanda can do it, we can do it. It starts with conviction that anybody else can do it, with different levels of success. Maybe some can even get better at it than Rwanda. People have to be convinced, have to want to do that they see and get the benefits they see that we feel we are getting from it. There is really no other way of putting it other than that because it is done by people where it doesn’t happen it’s because people there don’t do it. It starts with making the choice, do you want to do certain things in certain ways, do you want to fight corruption since we know the negative aspects of corruption. People want to fight corruption, they can do it. Do they want examples, yes. They can say Rwanda; they are fighting it with some degree of success so that is an encouragement that they can do it also. You cannot succeed even if you hired Rwandans to come and do it for you. You’ve got to be wanting to do it for yourself and you do it and you get the results, this is what I can encourage people to be thinking about, if even Rwanda can do it, and get progress then you say, I can do it and get the same progress. Whether it is fighting corruption or whether it is cleanliness or whether it is anything else, it starts with what you want and what is in your mind. Maybe you will help tell him the part he missed because he just got the translation. It’s really whether people want and what they want. If they want to fight corruption, if they want good governance, if they want to build institutions, if they want to be clean. Anybody, any country can achieve it. Especially if they say if Rwanda can do it, why can’t we? If they give it a go, they may find they succeed even better than Rwanda.

Thank you very much Your Excellency. My name is Edmund Kagire; I work for the East African newspaper. Your Excellency, my question has to do with a government program known as the crop intensification program. One of the opposition parties in the country recently release a statement raising concerns that the implementation of this program has caused a number of concerns among the citizens, among other things they said some local leaders have uprooted crops of citizens in areas zoned for particular crops in a way that they say is overzealous or overambitious. Your Excellency how can such government programs be implemented without causing some unrest among the citizens?

President Kagame: As you are saying it, if it happened and the way it happened, it shouldn’t have happened. Meaning, bad practice or poor implementation of a good program that hurts citizens is bad. It doesn’t even have to come from the opposition, it’s just bad. I am sure, seeing what is bad in this is not confined to the opposition. The opposition discovers something that people already know too well. Now, let me make a distinction here, crop intensification program is good, it has benefited more citizens by far than those who may complain about it. It has transformed the lives of these citizens by far in comparison with what we have had before; there isn’t even anything we could compare it with. So, it’s good to have it, we want to encourage it. Has it had bad practices during implementation? I think going by what you are saying, this may be true so we have now to turn our attention to actually making sure that the implementation part does not have this side effect, does not affect the citizens. I think that’s the most important thing. Even trying to talk to these citizens of ours, to understand the benefits they have in it, to do it when they are convinced that it is in their interest is also our responsibility. You may have a good policy, you may have a good program but if you rush it and you don’t even communicate with the people to make them understand how good it is for them and what is important in it it’s a wrong way of doing thing, it’s a bad way of doing things. People need to be communicated to, they need to be educated, and they need to be convinced so that they own what is being done to improve their lives. I think this is where I am. I would not scrap the crop intensification program, because in some place, for some few people, it affected them badly in this way because of local leaders or poor implementation. I’d rather consider concentrate on two things.

Shyaka Kanuma- Rwanda Focus: We would like to say that we were actually doing our homework, putting the debate out there the way it was presented, precisely. We would like to also say that the homework will go on. We will go on practicing the excellent journalism that Rwandan people will expect of us and thank you very much for clarifying that last point Mr. President.

President Kagame: Arising out of the debate, arising out of the many questions I am asked that gave rise to this debate in the first place. If there is trust that the many questions that I do what I have said I will do, relating to what is there, meaning the constitution why then would people continue asking this question. Why don’t people just keep the trust and wait until it is over. Now in the same way, if actually people don’t trust, still, I don’t think they should be asking the question because if you don’t trust me, at the same time you want to rely on my answer to you, then there is still a problem. Isn’t it? Either way, if you trust me, then you keep interrogating me whether this is going to happen, this isn’t going to happen and so on and so forth. I find it strange. If you don’t trust me and you still keep asking me and therefore believing that I will give you the right answer, then there is a contradiction. If you don’t trust me then most likely I give you the answer that doesn’t please you. Isn’t it? Or the wrong answer that doesn’t fit what you want.

Shyaka Kanuma- Rwanda Focus: May I clarify a little bit there Mr. President. Actually, no matter how you have been clear here. People will still go and try to turn it into another third term issue. Why? Because it sells newspapers. It makes them being listened to. There will be a slow news day and someone will say I think I will bring up Mr. Kagame and talk about a third term. So it is a bit cynical although I will not be talking for the entire journalism profession because they are those who are really not cynical, but it’s a reality that every politician lives with, I cannot condescend to you.

President Kagame: I know, I appreciate that, much as I seem to be complaining about it, I don’t really mind. We can live with it for as long as we have to live with it. But even for intellectual purpose, my question then is, actually what happens to the citizens. Do we subject this whole matter of a future of a country to only few journalists? You remember in one of my answers on Twitter, I said this debate is welcome let’s go on for as long as we want with it but at the end of the day let’s remember that Rwandans have to decide. Remember, therefore that raises the question for me, even am just trying to raise it with you even for intellectual purposes, it’s as if what should happen in this country or for the future of these people has to be decided by one or two or three or four or even ten individuals who keep saying this and that and so on and so forth and entirely forget the rights of these citizens and actually the power they have to decide on what they want to decide because even the so-called, even the constitution people talk about they forget that actually this constitution was put in place by these people not by these journalists, isn’t it? Who put this constitution or any other, who put in place the constitution? Long ago, which surprisingly used to be well appreciated, constitution here used be written by single individuals. Somebody sat and is one man who used to write a foreigner or so would sit and write a constitution of this country and by the way this was considered democratic, isn’t it? There is a lot of fooling around with the people; I think we are really made good fools by these discussions. That’s why actually I remember, I told people, I said people don’t even know how am dying to get out of this place because it would give me more freedom to really give people a piece of my mind. Sometimes, I am not helped by how I say things or even what I say. So I am always holding back so that I don’t add confusion to the already confused situation. When I am out of this place, I think I would freely say anything and only be held accountable in a different way because somebody says nobody can touch this constitution but who put it in place? Who puts in place a constitution? Sometimes the debates look childish. You tell me, nobody can touch this constitution, but what about the one who put it there or what was there before that one went there? Tell me which constitution in the world that has never been touched? Which one? Tell me….

Every day, even now they are going to amend it, for this gun thing. So what are people talking about? The intellectuals, why don’t you think beyond small thing, you confine yourselves. Let me go beyond that. How about countries that don’t have constitutions? Don’t we have them?

Even those who only exploit oil, it is not those who have it. It’s even those who want it that don’t have constitution. You don’t know developed powers that don’t have constitutions?

I was only thinking outloud. Somehow there must be people without even constitutions. So what do they go by? I am sure many things change everyday in those situations. These are some of the things sometimes I just hesitate to talk about but my question is on one hand you say this is something for these people, they are the ones who put in place then you say they can’t do that. Well, I don’t want to say more of it to add confusion because somebody might be reading my mind…anyway I don’t mind confusing confused people.

Tuyisenge Leonard, Izuba Rirashe: Thank you, your Excellency. My question is related to the recent natural disasters that happened all over the country in the recent days.  As a journalist, I believe something needs to be done to protect the populations living in the most risky areas; they need to be moved, however some of those people have been living in those areas for a long time and have land titles. Your Excellency, they are wondering if their moving is an expropriation, if there is a budget that has been set aside to buy their land.

President Kagame: Are they being moved because of the natural disasters?

Tuyisenge Leonard, Izuba Rirashe: Yes, they are being moved to safer areas as a protective measure.

President Kagame: So what seems to be the problem then?

Tuyisenge Leonard, Izuba Rirashe: Your Excellency, the problem is that some of them were living in those areas legally while others were illegal settlers. Due to the predominantly hilly landscape of our country, there are quite a big number of people who find themselves in this situation. In that regard, those who have to move are now wondering if the Government has planned to compensate them financially and if the area where they are to move has been identified yet.

President Kagame: I am assuming that the authorities that asked them to move also told them how they are going to go about it. That is what we have to follow up on, because you cannot possibly ask people to move without informing them about the process or telling them where to go. If that hasn’t been done then…The authorities concerned have to ensure it is done, because that is the right way to do things. That is one of the main challenges with policy implementation, the concerned institutions have to follow up and ensure it is done properly.

Patrick Muneza, TV10: Thank you your Excellency. My question is related with the population’s economic development and welfare. As part of the country’s development policy, you have encouraged the population to join cooperatives and as you might have seen yourself during your recent up country visits, this policy did indeed promote economic development in the rural areas. People are running their cooperatives and have elected their own leaders. However, the authorities in charge of cooperatives on a national level are meddling in the running of those cooperatives. This is proving to be a challenge to the population, because they cannot trust that this institution will let them run their cooperatives freely. I can give an example of what I am saying.

President Kagame: This is pretty straight forward; you do not need to give an example because I believe what you are saying might have happened. Now, as you said yourself, there are many benefits to joining cooperatives and one might argue that the best performing cooperatives are those where run independently from the RCA. Let’s assume that those are 1-3% of all the cooperatives we have in this country.  What we can do is ensure that this institution is doing what it is meant to do; which is to support the population, advise them and promote the benefits of joining cooperatives.  As for meddling in the running of those cooperatives, that should be corrected. We need to know exactly where it happened and use it as an example for the institution, to demonstrate the type of situations they should try to avoid, showcase the unintended consequences that might occur and eventually correct them.

However, I am glad you recognize the benefits of cooperatives for the populations and as for those mistakes; I trust they will be corrected. The Ministers here with us are listening, I see the Minister of Local Government here; he should support those people and follow up on those issues. The root of the problem with the RCA needs to be understood and fixed in order for the institution to work better with the population.

Professor Wolfgang, E-Turbo News: Mr. President, your country has a wide reputation in terms of divisionary forest policy; you’ve developed and implemented it in the recent years. Under your Government you made Nyungwe national park, the gaps around Gishwati have been closed, reforestation is evident around the country. The question of course is what’s happening in the neighborhood of Rwanda and in the East African neighbor countries, they have issues of Magwira, and forest and the Eastern mountains in Tanzania which have been heavily locked, what is your Government doing, what are you doing in order to get your colleagues on board, because otherwise there will be a green Rwanda in the midst of wastelands.

The other area I would like you to touch on, is the revised budget statement, it was read last week in parliament. It was particularly mentioned that Rwanda Air and the Kigali Convention Centre, will be getting budget support, but of course Rwanda’s new airport in Bugesera which was not mentioned. And the railway between Isaka in Tanzania and Kigali was also not mentioned, so I would like to have possibly a word from you, whether these two additional very important valuable infrastructure projects beside Rwanda Air and besides the National Convention Center are also going to be getting the same priority, the airline and hospitality sector are getting. Thank you Mister President.

President Kagame: For East Africa, with our neighbors we can only interact and talk to each other, because there are these meetings that take over every now and then, sectoral meetings or other meetings. We can only share with our neighbors with our brothers and sisters, any concerns as I am sure they may do on other matters with us, so that working together helps address many issues including this one. So, we can only communicate, I am sure they also know the consequences of this. The first people to know are those people where such things are taking place. So it’s not that we will be telling them things they don’t know or that we will be showing them things they don’t see. It’s only sharing information and concerns as we normally do on anything, in the meetings that bring the East African partner states together at different levels. So we can only do that, nothing beyond, because we don’t formulate policies or even implement policies for other countries, we do it only for Rwanda.

Then on issues of the revised budget statement and Rwanda Air, you see, at any one time you do what you can do and you can try to find ways and means to do other things you’re not able to do at that time. So what we are able to deal with in this way is Rwanda Air, it’s immediate, it’s already ongoing it’s something we can do something about. The national convention center and the railway and many other things, these are things we may keep paying attention to in the immediate and short to long term, but we want to bring in private sector more than Government being  able to really take on these heavy investments all at once. Even for Rwanda Air, even as we build it as we continue to strengthen it and invest in it, we are looking for partners, private investors or partners to work with, to reduce the burden on our contributions. So Convention Center, railway, we have been working with people in different ways, but the aim being to bring in private capital to deal with the situation.

Stephanie Aglietti, AFP: Thank you Mister President. Yesterday you created a new Ministry of State, especially for mines and previously in Davos, you announced stock exchange that if I understood well, included minerals. So I just want to ask you a first question: what does it mean politically and economically for Rwanda, these two decisions (what is the goal for creating this position)? And second question; what is the responsibility of Rwanda-just to help people, to fight against blood minerals, concretely, what is the thing that Rwanda can do to help? Thank you.

President Kagame: Ok, but I am surprised a bit, because why would you be interested more in minerals more than health? We created a Ministry for health as well and it is not a big concern but for minerals it becomes a political concern? But I think I will tell you. First of all, the main reason for focusing on minerals and so on is even how increasingly it is contributing to our growth and our GDP and how it is benefiting the country. Because we are finding a lot of minerals, there has been a lot of prospecting for minerals in Rwanda, but we have had minerals anyway before. Much as there are always political aspect relating again to our neighbours and we have seen this being played around, maybe it is also hidden in the question. It is about minerals, they talk about. Even in this issue of Congo, people have politicized the issue of mineral, almost implying as if mineral wealth that Rwanda has or that it doesn’t have, but the revenues coming from minerals are revenues coming from minerals from outside of Rwanda, this has always been the game played.  But there are minerals here in Rwanda, increasingly we are benefitting from that, we need to think about organizing this sector, because of not only the benefits we are having from it in terms of money, but also because of the situation we have to deal with that has these implications that are confused and we need to sort them out.

So singling it out, and giving it a Minister of State is as important as singling out a Minister of State for health for dealing with matters of health, primary health care and other issues, so for us its mainly focused really on economic benefits  but it also answers some of these  other side issues of political nature that are un necessarily brought into the question, so that over time we bring in more clarity so that people who are trained to confuse issues deliberately are denied an opportunity to confuse issues. That’s why for us, when it came to let’s say mineral tagging, I don’t think there is any country in this whole region that is doing it the way we have been doing it. In fact we might even be the only people who are doing it. As for others, it doesn’t have as much effect on them as it has on us; in fact it is as if all these efforts were created more to overburden Rwanda than to deal with the real problem they are talking about. So we are happy to do our best in making sure that our minerals have clarity as to where have come from, there are from here, you can trace the origin, you can do what. But, there are hundreds of millions if not even billions of minerals that move around this region by the way, benefiting and involving those countries that are behind putting these measures, whose clarity is not to be talked about. If you look at people involved in mining, even say in our neighborhood, in neighboring countries, benefiting from that, and they turn around and there is nothing clear about those minerals, by those people. But they turn around and say: “let’s make sure that Rwanda is not doing that for clarity so, again it is to hide behind that and so, but we are happy to be very clear on our issues, and back to your question, the Minister or the Minister of State responsible for that is to reinforce that clarity which saves us a lot of burden from outside, and continues to benefit us the way we should benefit from our own resources that are confused for other resources.

Eddy Mwerekande, City Radio: Thank you Your Excellency, My question is related to the Ministry of Education. Last week, this Ministry published the National Examination results for the secondary level. Among the students who sat for those exams are 570 private students whose results were not published. According to the Ministry, this was due to the fact that those students did not fulfill all the requirements. This is an unfair situation for the students because they filled all the required forms as usual and they were never notified that something was missing.  Your Excellency, I would like to hear your comment on this situation. Thanks.

President Kagame: Is there any particular reason why you are doubting what the Ministry is saying bout that situation? Because sometimes you might catch someone red handed, tell them that what they are doing is wrong, and they might still deny it, say “I wasn’t doing anything wrong”. In that case, what you do is look at both sides, assess the truth of the allegations and decide if what was said is wrong or right.

But the first issue I would like to point out is that it seems like there are issues between the Ministry and the students. So could the Ministry be mistaken, are they not telling the truth? We need to investigate the truth behind those allegations. As for me, I had heard of that issue before, but I do not have any evidence proving that what the Ministry said is wrong.

I have heard about the issue but up until now I have nothing to make me doubt the version of the Ministry of education on this. But there must be ways of following up to establish the truth.

Burasa Jean Gorbert, Rushyashya: Later this year, we will hold Parliamentary elections. However, people we have talked to think that there is need to change the way these elections are conducted, where people are sometimes are forced to vote for people they may not want due to various reasons. Your Excellency, don’t you think time is ripe for change in this voting system?

President Kagame: Well, may be that time has come but I don’t have a basis to believe so. You may have heard from people of your choice, if you may have asked two or three people, five other people may have different views from those you asked. But then, I have no problem if a debate is generated to find out views from people to see whether a change is needed. Minister of local Government, what is your assessment, what are people’s views? Can we create a framework where people raise their concerns widely so we know what should be done?

Minister of local Government, James Musoni: Your Excellency, this is indeed the right time and the law concerning this issue is already in Parliament undergoing some adjustments. This issue has never been raised before, but this is the opportunity for Parliament to start the debate and invite people to discuss this issue….

President Kagame: I am open to these discussions but in a more broad way, not sentiments from a few people.

Prudent Nsengiyunva, BBC: Mr. President, I would like to ask a question related to what you alluded to earlier, about the recent peace accord signed in Addis Ababa. A couple of days a go there were reports of violence and gunshots within M23, what does this mean, what impact would this have on the ongoing peace process? And if you allow, Your Excellency, about the recent budget support cut by some donor countries, how sure are you that this aid will be reinstated soon?

President Kagame: On the first question on M23, what’s happening in M23 and who is fighting who. I will tell you that I don’t even care, I don’t mind, I don’t follow. If it’s another way of sorting themselves out, I am not going to comment on that to avoid being accused of supporting M23 or this time of supporting one faction against the other. This will be sorted out by themselves, by the Congolese, by those leading the process of the International Conference of the Great Lakes region. I think they are better placed to deal with such matters than I am. I will raise these questions as a participant in these conferences because at the end of the day, we want peace in Eastern Congo; we want peace in the region because peace benefits us all. I don’t know much about what is happening in M23, and what implication it has on them, on peace or whoever. My take has always been the issue of M23 has always been exaggerated or blown out of proportion to hide much bigger problems that are there. Just to give you a simple example, we know of crimes that have taken place in that situation for as many as more than 10, 15 or 18 years…same rape, killings, looting. But all of a sudden all that disappears and it is M23 that is committing the worst crimes ever on earth. M23 started existing when? Is it one year now? Ok, let’s say they are responsible for all the crimes on earth in that place. Are we saying before the existence nothing was happening? Or is it the same people who were there in another form and were doing that and now came together and continued committing the crimes and others are innocent? We see reports when Goma was overrun, people who were fleeing, they were raping, killing and looting. So this becomes M23 by the nature of what they are doing. I mean it gets confusing, this whole thing masks…there are more questions that need to be answered. What is going on between M23, I would say there are frameworks to deal with that, there is the ICGLR, there are other regional efforts beyond, the UN that has been there for a long time. Hopefully we can keep finding ways of reining in these groups. I only keep going back to the one that tends to be forgotten and it is the worst in the situation and that is FDLR and the genocidaires, where they are, what they are doing, who is doing what with them. These are issues of my concern more than anything else but put together we have a clear path to find solutions to all these problems. But this M23 has become something to cover up bigger problems that are there. But we hope whatever happens there should not derail the path we are on of finding peace in Eastern Congo, we should remain vigilant.

Asumani Niyonambaza, Rugari: Your Excellency, my question concerns hygiene in public buildings. There are some Ministries like the Ministry of Local Government and the Directorate of Migration, which don’t have public toilets. It is not appropriate to see nice buildings without such facilities. Your Excellency, if you allow me, I would also like to request that translations of your press conferences in Kinyarwanda be reinstated on Rwanda Television.

President Kagame: Those concerned should see how to rectify this to enable those who don’t understand English to follow. The Minister of Local Government should tell us something about hygiene in the Ministry.

Minister of Local Government, James Musoni: I think what Assoumani meant is the state of the building which is old and needs rehabilitation but not a problem of lack of toilets. This is catered for in this budget, and rehabilitation will be carried out.

President Kagame: But why wouldn’t you shift to other buildings all together instead of carrying endless rehabilitation. But we will find a way of solving this in another forum, not here.

Celestin Ntawuyirushamaboko, Radio One: Your Excellency, I would like to bring to your attention ongoing wrangles in the Moslem community where there are factions supporting the old Mufti and another one on the side of the new Mufti, problems similar to the one of ADEPR…

President Kagame: I think the solution should be similar to that of ADEPR. They should be helped to find solutions. Sometimes misunderstandings are health, the same way people find it good to have destructive opposition, may be its democratic. But then when the problems reach a certain level, it calls for intervention by authorities.

Minister Musoni: Your Excellency, since 7th this month we put in place a committee made of different government institutions which will issue a report on this issue and how to solve it.

President Kagame: Alright, thank you all and have a good day.