Five highlights from Minister Biruta's press conference

Journalists during the news briefing with Foreign Affairs minister Dr Vincent Biruta in Kigali on Wednesday, August 12. / Photo: Courtesy.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Vincent Biruta hosted a press conference on Wednesday 12th August. 

He addressed various topics related to regional and global affairs that have made headlines over the last couple of months. Here are the highlights 

 

1.     Commonwealth meeting rescheduled to June 2021

 

Rwanda will on Thursday establish the final decision on hosting the next Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting [CHOGM] as the deadline for the consultation process lapses.

 

Rwanda had proposed to the Commonwealth Secretariat to host the meeting in the week of June 21, 2021, following the calling off of this year’s summit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dr Vincent Biruta, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, speaks during a news conference in Kigali on Wednesday, August 12. Biruta addressed a wide range of topics related to regional and global affairs that have made headlines over the last couple of months. Photo: Courtesy.

The Secretariat wrote to Commonwealth member states for the consultation process including accessing if there are objections to Rwanda’s proposal. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020, is the deadline for the consultation process.

Following the pandemic and consequent slowdown of business activity in hotels and the hospitality sector, there is much expectation that the meeting will boost the sectors involved with hosting such a major summit.

2.     Rwanda writes to the Belgium government over SN Brussels incident

The Rwandan government has written to the Belgian government requesting clarity on why Kigali bound passengers were barred from boarding an SN Brussels flight last week.  So far, no response has been received. Biruta said that the response will enable them advise tourists and travelers to Rwanda.

3.     Rwanda-Zambia ties

On the claims by terror suspect Callixte Nsabimana alleging support by Zambian President Edgar Lungu, Biruta said the claims were made in court and there have been efforts to verify their authenticity.  Biruta added that Zambia had dispatched an envoy to Rwanda to discuss the issue and have been invited to engage with Nsabimana to ascertain the truth of the allegations. 

“What I can say is that these allegations have not affected our relations with Zambia,” The Minister said. 

4.     EAC Covid-19 cooperation strategy 

While the East African Community has in past months missed out on cooperation opportunities in reducing the bloc’s vulnerability to the Covid-19 pandemic, Biruta said that there is continued engagement among member countries on an ideal way forward.

This includes implementation of the EAC Covid-19 Strategy and a cross border truck driver tracking system which will help in establishing data on tests and movement of drivers across the bloc.

Biruta said that as the country opens up its borders to stimulate economic recovery, there is an awareness of the vulnerability it could pose but has set up various measures and will keep adjusting them in response to Covid-19 trends.

5.     Uganda, Burundi relations

Efforts to restore and improve ties with Uganda were described as ‘one step forward two back’, by Minister Biruta. 

While there has been some progress in the release of Rwandans who were illegally arrested, Rwanda continues to witness harassment of Rwandans in Uganda, continued operations of anti-Rwandan government elements as well as territorial violations, Biruta said.

On Burundian refugees, Biruta said no refugee had been barred from returning home as has been previously alleged. He said that the government and partners would be convening a meeting on Thursday, August 13, to further discuss the safe repatriation of refugees.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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