URUGWIRO VILLAGE - President Paul Kagame and his Zambian counterpart, Rupiah Banda, yesterday held talks at Urugwiro village in which they discussed the security situation in the Great Lakes region and the issue of Rwandan Genocide fugitives living in the southern Africa nation.
The Zambian President currently chairing the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) was on a fact-finding mission on the peace process within the region ahead of tabling a final report to the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government summit scheduled for Addis Ababa early this year.
Addressing the press shortly after the meeting, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of both countries said that the two Presidents discussed the latest initiatives that have made progress in bringing peace to the region but discussed issues of joint bilateral interests.
“As you may be aware, Rwanda and Zambia are very close countries with a very warm relationship... the President, who is the current chair of the ICGLR, is here to carry out consultations ahead of the AU Summit which is scheduled for the end of January,” Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister, Kabinga Pande, said.
The two Presidents agreed to revive a Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to address issues of bilateral interests.
The JPC will come up with a final approach on the issue of Rwandan Genocide fugitives living in Zambia.
“Zambia is a country that does not entertain Genocide and is strong on human rights. The promise that we have made is that the two justice ministries should sit and see how Zambia can help Rwanda bring Genocide suspects to come to Rwanda and face justice and not feel comfortable in Zambia,” Pande said.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, thanked Zambia for their strong support as the country sought to join the Commonwealth bid.
She said that the Zambian leader fully backed the issue of apprehending Genocide suspects hiding in Zambia and bringing them to justice.
“He visited the Genocide Memorial site at Gisozi this morning and promised that the country will do anything that is feasible to make sure that Genocide suspects do not feel comfortable in Zambia,” said Mushikiwabo.
“The judicial authorities are now going to bring together information they have on both ends and we move from there.”
On the issue of refugees in Zambia who may not have participated in the Genocide, it was agreed that the two countries work together to ensure that those who want to be repatriated be sent home while those willing to seek asylum go through the right channels.