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Rwandans See Bush Visit as Confirmation of Progress Since 1994 Genocide

Most Rwandans are proud that President Bush is visiting. They see his visit as a confirmation of the progress their country has made since the genocide of 1994 tore their country apart. Thomas Rippe reports for VOA from Kigali.

American flags are flying side by side with Rwandan flags across Kigali to welcome President Bush as he stops here on his five-nation African tour.

Business manager Maggie Kenyana is excited about the visit and says it is a confirmation of the progress Rwanda has made in rebuilding the country after the disastrous genocide of 1994.

"It is good for him to come here, especially after the genocide," she said. "It is good for him to come and see how far Rwanda has gone after the genocide, because a lot has changed."

Kigali residents like leading Rwandan filmmaker Eric Kabera say the Bush visit is very important for Rwanda.

"It is a remarkable step to see Rwanda is recognized by a U.S. president, among, I do not know, 50 countries across Africa and he chose five and Rwanda is among them," he said.

Venuste Karambizi is the dean of the faculty of social sciences at Kigali Independent University and an expert in international relations.

"I see that President Bush has come to Rwanda not only because Rwanda has made a lot of progress, but also because America needs strong partners," he said.

Karambizi says that Rwanda's current stability makes it an ideal place for the United States to base its efforts to promote security in the African Great Lakes region.

He says the visit is politically important for Rwanda. On February 7, a Spanish judge indicted 40 current and former members of the Rwandan military for crimes against humanity.

Karambizi says the indictment was designed to discredit the Rwandan government. The Bush visit is an important show of support.

"The other interest is the confirmation that there is democracy in Rwanda," he added. "There is good governance and Rwanda needs that demonstration."

For Rwandans the Bush visit is both a recognition of past success and an important step towards the future.