Rwanda seeks partnership not dictates – Kagame

President Paul Kagame (left) talks to the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, on the sidelines of the 2019 Doha Forum. The Forum was established in 2000 as a platform for dialogue on critical global challenges. Village Urugwiro

Rwanda’s international cooperation efforts seek partnership with the rest of the world for shared gains not pursuing favours as a darling of the world, President Paul Kagame has said.

Kagame was speaking in Qatar at the 2019 Doha Forum, a leading thought platform which discusses varied topics including trends and technology, trade and investment, human capital and inequality, security, cyber governance, and defense among others.

President Kagame was speaking during a session called "spotlight conversation" with Ghida Fakhry.

Elaborating Rwanda’s relationship with the rest of the world especially the West, Kagame said that Rwanda seeks to create avenues of partnership and cooperation and not to be everyone’s darling as is often perceived.

While Rwanda has no objections with being anyone’s favourite, Kagame said that the country does not condone dictatorial relationship.

“I have been seeking partnerships, I want to work with people. Whether Africans or outside of Africa, I am very much for cooperation. What I do not like is dictates that come from some parts of the world to Africa or to Rwanda,” he said.

Rwanda having deposits of minerals such as Coltan that are high in demand across the world does not form a basis to pressure or please global partners, he added.

Even if Rwanda had more minerals, Kagame said that the country would still apply the same principles seeking to achieve fair and justified cooperation for everyone’s gains. 

With the available natural resources, the President said that the country aims to add value to minerals as opposed to exporting them as raw materials.

“What we want is to be able to reach a level where we can add value to some of these things, instead of exporting minerals in their raw form, we want to and have started investing in the refinery of our minerals so that we get value for what we have,” he said.

The Head of State said that leadership and democracy ought not to be viewed as a one size fits all saying that context and citizens' opinion matter.

Kagame also said that leadership and democracy in Africa should not always be viewed in the West’s context, values and prescriptions which often are not relevant on the African continent.

Over the years, African countries reputation has unjustifiably suffered when democracy and leadership has been viewed form European’s or America’s prescriptions such as length of stay of a leader in power.

“If you want to measure everything against the Western system, it does not always provide solutions to many cases, other people and places have their value systems as well and are answerable to their own people,” he told the audience.

As opposed to making summary assumptions about Africa and its leadership based on Western-style metrics, Kagame elaborated on the importance of understanding countries, their contexts and their people.

“Don’t pick one thing and assume that it speaks to every problem about Africans, in fact, some people might spend longer time in one place (leadership) and it‘s justified and others may spend the same time and it’s not justified, that is why I am talking about the context, is it really the choice of people in the country,” the President said. 

With the state of Rwanda-Uganda relations increasingly attracting the world's attention, the session’s moderator sought to know Rwanda’s position in restoring normalcy.

Kagame described it as a ‘quarrel in a family’ saying that the countries were in the process of talking things out.

He ruled out chances of a conflict saying that parties are more reasonable adding that any challenge can be resolved through discussions. 

Responding to whether corruption is a culture among Africans, President Kagame said the vice is not cultural or a way for Africans saying that it can be rooted out as has been evidenced by countries such as Rwanda and other places.

He said that often the vice is a consequence of bad governance, lack of proper structures, under development and can be solved by setting up intervention measures as well as looking at it as a global challenge as opposed to a continental trait.

The Doha Forum was established in 2000 as a platform for global dialogue on critical global challenges.

The forum was held under the theme: “Reimagining Governance in a Multipolar World”.

At the forum, President Kagame joined the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Prime Minister.

Description

Mahathir bin Mohamad of Malaysia who was awarded the inaugural Doha Forum Award, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and other global leaders from the public and private sectors.

The annual forum brings together a distinguished group of leaders, thinkers and policymakers to redefine global governance that addresses key needs.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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