LONDON - President Paul Kagame has defended the recent visit by the United Kingdom’s opposition leader, David Cameron, to Rwanda at the time when his constituency was hit by floods.
Cameron’s visit to Rwanda in July coincided with floods that devastated his West Oxfordshire constituency, leaving thousands homeless.
His visit attracted widespread criticism from international media.
“He was acting as a true leader who understands that we live in an interdependent world and chose to continue with the visit,” Kagame, who was on Tuesday addressing the Conservative Party (CP) Annual Convention in Blackpool, UK, said.
“Cameron’s decision to continue the visit amidst the floods was most touching,” Kagame said.
The President addressed the convention at the invitation of Cameron. The latter invited Kagame during his visit to Rwanda two months ago.
The President also supported the CP Kigali declaration on international development which among other issues calls upon developed countries to open trade barriers to developing countries.
“Rich countries should (exercise fairness) by opening up markets to enable us the developing countries to trade our way out of poverty,” Kagame said.
While launching his party’s policy paper on poverty eradication in Kigali, Cameron urged the West to open up markets and remove barriers that put poor countries at such an unfair disadvantage.
“Success has only been realised where aid was used as a temporary measure while domestic and foreign investment stocks are built to underpin economic growth and development.
Another important contributing factor to successful use of aid is a common perspective between the donor and the recipient,” Kagame said.
He said that the world should support the real trade campaign that is being advocated for by the Conservative Party.
“Trade and investment are the real creators of wealth; aid can only work transitionally,” he told the convention.
Cameron’s visit to Rwanda was preceded by a two-week tour by some 43 members of the CP who carried out community work in some parts of the country.
“Thanks to Andrew Mitchell for initiating project Umubano the team that participated in various fields left a lasting legacy in our country,” Kagame said in his appreciation for the Tories’ voluntary work in Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Kagame, who is on a five-day visit to the UK, yesterday met with British Premier Gordon Brown.
The two leaders discussed the existing bilateral relations between the two countries.
The UK is the leading donor country to Rwanda.
The two leaders also discussed ways on how Africa’s trade share can be increased and the role Rwanda is playing in peacekeeping missions in Africa, notably Darfur in Sudan. They called for support to the UN/AU Hybrid force for Darfur.