Rwandan Police, military and correctional service peacekeepers deployed to various UN missions across the globe, on July 4, joined the rest of Rwandans to mark the 25th national liberation anniversary.
In Central African Republic (CAR) celebrations, that were also attended by senior government and UN officials, were held in two separate areas where Rwandan peacekeepers are deployed; in Socatel M’poko in the capital Bangui and Kaga-Bandoro, about 400km from the capital.
In Bangui, where two Rwandan Police contingents and a military contingent are deployed, they were joined by Rwandans in Diaspora, friends on Rwanda in CAR and senior UN officials headed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye.
The occasion was presided over by CAR Minister of Defence, Marie Noelle Koyara, who commended the Rwandan peacekeepers for their “professionalism, skills and discipline” and urged them to share them with their counterparts in CAR.
“Rwanda’s period of struggle is almost similar to the one the Central African Republic has passed through. This is why we have to learn a lot from the efforts and commitment of the Rwandan army during the liberation struggle headed by your current President, His Excellency Paul Kagame,” Minister Koyara said
Lt Col. Vincent Ntazinda, who spoke on behalf of Rwandan peacekeepers in Bangui, dwelt much on Rwanda’s bad history and the journey to liberate the country.
“We thank you so much for your accompany on this great day that marks the Rwandan Liberation Day. This day came after four years of struggle to change our nation, give hope and unite Rwandans,” Lt. Col Ntazinda said.
He said that partnership with other African countries particularly through peacekeeping is Rwanda’s policy towards peace and stability on the continent especially in protection of civilians.
Nicholas Rugira, who heads the Rwandan diaspora in CAR, said that Rwanda’s patriotic spirit that stopped the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which more than one million people were killed, and liberated the country, continues to be the pillar of Rwanda’s transformation process.
In Kaga-Bandoro, celebration activities were held at the Rwandan Formed Police Unit (FPU) contingent base-camp and presided over by the Prefect of Nana-Gribizi prefecture, Mahamat Abdoulaye.
They were also joined representatives of CAR security organs, contingent commanders of peacekeeping units from other countries deployed in the area, representatives of former armed groups and local leaders and residents.
In South Sudan, the Rwandan peacekeepers deployed in Malakal under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), were also joined by Rwandans living in Malakal, other peacekeepers, local officials and residents.
The Governor of Upper Nile, Peter Chol Wal, who graced the event, said: “I know the meaning of liberation because I was part of the struggle to liberate my country, and such a day bring the memories of what you fought for.”
He added: “Today you are commemorating brave compatriots you lost during the liberation war, the ones who gave their lives for the dignity of your country.”
He further said that 25 years later, Rwanda is also celebrating the progress made in all aspects of development.
The Governor commended Rwanda’s “good leadership and their tireless efforts in the continuous liberation struggle.”
Christian Milkhail from UNMISS Field Office, who was in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994, recalled the state of Rwanda in that period and how the country was ruined by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which more than million people were killed in a space of only one hundred days.
“Such a day bring memories of the difficult period in lives of Rwandans; it’s amazing how the country managed to overcome such kind of challenging situation with in just 25 years... it’s a miracle,” Milkhail said.
He observed that the Liberation Day is an act of “unifying a peaceful Rwanda which is prosperous for all.”
“Rwanda is known for working efficiently... aiming for success in development and in fighting corruption, it’s an exemplary country. We are all proud as Africans for the country,” Milkhail added.
Rwanda maintains Formed Police Unit (FPU) hybrid contingent of 240 officers in Malakal.