President Paul Kagame has called for promotion of inclusive, non-sectarian politics in post-conflict situations and the world at large.
Kagame was speaking yesterday at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, U.S, at an event dubbed, the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, held in honour of the centenary of the birth of the former South African leader.
“Inclusive and non-sectarian politics is not only advantageous in Africa or in post-conflict situations. As the world has been seeing, national unity is a good thing, wherever it takes place,” Kagame told the summit, held on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly.
Kagame, who is also the current chairperson of the African Union, praised Mandela’s legacy as one of a “great African freedom fighter and statesman”.
“Nelson Mandela’s centenary presents an ideal moment to reflect on the meaning that the legacy of this great African freedom fighter and statesman holds for us today,” the Rwandan leader said.
He added: “Nelson Mandela understood that the politics of confrontation and division impedes a nation’s social cohesion and progress.
“Even though the wounds were still fresh, he endeavoured to show that the suffering endured by him and countless other South Africans could be re-directed toward building a more positive future for the country.”
This, Kagame said, was not an easy message. “But President Mandela was a true leader and an inspiring communicator. He did what was right, even when it was not popular.”
Mandela died on 5 December 2013, aged 95, more than a decade after he became the first black South African president, after spending 27 years in an apartheid South Africa prison.
In New York, President Kagame drew parallels between post-Apartheid South Africa and present-day Rwanda, which had its own share of human cruelty over a period spanning decades, culminating into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed more than a million lives.
“In Rwanda”, he said “our tragic history has also taught us the importance of unity and inclusivity for reconciliation and nation-building.”
We work to ensure that all citizens have equal rights and opportunities and are able to participate actively in shaping our country’s direction in meaningful ways, the Head of State added. “This approach has allowed us to restore trust in public institutions, and also in each other.”
“We are fortunate to have Nelson Mandela’s example to keep bringing us back to this fundamental truth,” Kagame said.
President Kagame is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York and his schedule includes a long list of strategic side events involving industry captains, philanthropists, innovators, development experts, among others.