Official slams rights group over allegations on commonwealth

Following a report by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) that aimed at frustrating Rwanda’s admission into the Commonwealth, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MINAFFET) has said that this report is influenced by Rwanda’s external negative forces.

Following a report by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) that aimed at frustrating Rwanda’s admission into the Commonwealth, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MINAFFET) has said that this report is influenced by Rwanda’s external negative forces.

The report comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Trinidad and Tobago this month, a meeting at which Rwanda’s admission to the Commonwealth Club is expected to be on the agenda.

Ben Balthazar Rutsinga, who is the Director for Europe, America, United Nations and International Organisations in MINAFFET told The New Times yesterday that the rights group was being influenced by negative forces that have deliberately refused to see any good in Rwanda’s progress.

“I havent read the full report but personally what I can tell you is that this group must be in cahorts with people or groups that view Rwanda negatively,” he said.

The rights group recommended that before being considered, Rwanda should wait for next year’s presidential elections, where a strong observer group should be sent to decide whether they are fair.

To this, Rutsinga says that Rwanda’s doors are always open for anyone interested in observing the elections.

“Rwanda welcomes the Commonwealth team here anytime. I am surprised that CHRI is not aware that a team from the Commonwealth was here last year to observe the Parliamentary elections,” he said.

The CHRI however gives the government credit for its health and education policies for the past 15 years.

Rwanda along with six other countries, has pitched plans to join the bloc to which 53 nations currently subscribe.

The report also touched on the support Rwanda has garnered from several Commonwealth member countries precisely picking out the United Kingdom.

“The most fervent supporter of Rwanda’s membership is the UK for reasons that are still not entirely clear,” the report reads in part.

In July this year, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his support for Rwanda’s application to join the club, majority of whose members are former colonies of Britain.

Former British PM Tony Blair also supported Rwanda’s bid
Rutsinga says that most of the Commonwealth members have already given Rwanda their seal of support and what remains is the outcome of the Trinidad and Tobago summit.
Prominent among the countries that have officially backed Rwanda’s bid are the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, Malawi, Singapore and the CHOGM hosts Trinidad & Tobago.

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