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

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.