News / Africa

Rwanda Touts Benefits of New Commonwealth Membership

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has wrapped up a trip to Britain, where he stressed the benefits of his country's new membership in the Commonwealth.

The flag of Rwanda was raised Monday alongside those of the other 53 members of the Commonwealth.

Speaking at the Royal Commonwealth Society Tuesday, Mr. Kagame said there were a number of benefits for Rwanda of joining the Commonwealth. He said trade and investment were pivotal.

Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo in Kigali (File)
Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo in Kigali (File)

Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, told VOA Rwanda is a stable country looking to develop its economy.

"We are looking at investment from both members and individual businesses in the member countries in the areas of mining, in ICT, in education of course, in areas also as interesting as broadcasting -- so we have a lot we think we can gain from being a member of the Commonwealth," she said.

The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organization of 54 independent member states.

Rwanda was admitted in November 2009 after a six-year bid to join the organization.

The member states cooperate within a framework of common values including the promotion of human rights. But humanitarian groups have criticized the African country for violations of human rights and limits to freedom of expression. And in March, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative voiced its own concern over political repression in the country during the run-up to presidential elections set to take place in August.

But Mushikiwabo says Rwanda must be judged in the context of its history.

"We are a country that has moved from genocide to stability and so there is no worse violation of human rights than genocide so it's important to put into perspective where Rwanda has come from and where Rwanda is today,"  said Mushikiwabo.

All but two member states of the Commonwealth, Rwanda and Mozambique, were formerly part of the British Empire. Rwanda is a former Belgian colony.

Most Commonwealth countries are English-speaking, but some bilingual countries such as Canada have dual membership in both the Commonwealth and the rival Francophone organization spearheaded by France.

Rwanda's relationship with France has been tense in recent years. In 2006 a French judge implicated Mr. Kagame in the killing in 1994 of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Rwanda has accused France of involvement in Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which around 800,000 people were killed.

But recently Rwanda and France have been rebuilding their broken ties and Mushikiwabo says the decision to join the Commonwealth is not a dig against the Francophone country.

"Rwanda's joining the Commonwealth has nothing to do with France. Rwanda's joining the Commonwealth is in the pursuit of opportunities and openness for Rwandan citizens," she said.

Alex Vines is an Africa analyst at the London-based research group Chatham House. He says Rwanda's decision to join the Commonwealth is designed to show that it's not mired in its colonial past.
 
"The joining of the Commonwealth is partly a message to France that Rwanda is a hybrid-country where although it was colonized by Belgium, it doesn't sit naturally just in the Francophone world and so the multiple memberships of these types of organizations is important to it," he said.

Vines says he thinks human rights in Rwanda will be under tighter surveillance now that the country is part of the Commonwealth - and this should lead to more freedoms in the country.  

"I think this will mean now that Rwanda will be held to account, that the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, which is based out of New Delhi, will visit Rwanda more regularly now and so the Rwandans will need to be cognizant of these issues," Vines said.

Presidential elections are set to take place in Rwanda in August - they will be the second presidential polls since the 1994 genocide.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs