Shyaka urges regional mayors to promote peace, cooperation

The Minister for Local Government Anastase Shyaka delivers his remarks during the 89th meeting of the Bureau of the International Association of French-speaking Mayors (AIMF) in Kigali on Saturday. / Sam Ngendahimana

The Minister for Local Government, Anastase Shyaka, has urged mayors from regional cities in Burundi, Rwanda, and the DR Congo to serve as a bridge to promote regional peace and cooperation.

Shyaka delivered the message yesterday while opening a special meeting of the platform of local mayors from the three countries, who are also in Kigali to attend the 89th meeting of Association Internationale des Maires Francophones (AIMF), a worldwide network of locally elected French-speaking city officials.

More than 100 mayors from French-speaking cities across the world have gathered in Kigali for the four-day meeting of the AIMF members.

The local leaders in the Great Lakes region chose the theme of “living together” among citizens of the region as the focus of their discussions yesterday.

Shyaka reminded the leaders that they can be a good bridge for building peace and stability in the region, also highlighting that the values they stand for are very precious for Rwanda.

“For us, the francophone space is a space for human values of peace, friendship, and openness to development. These are precious values for Rwanda,” he said.

“Talking about living together and peace while you are in Kigali is talking about our past, our present, and our future. We know how it feels not being able to live together and we need to ensure that we protect the ability to live together”.

The minister told the delegates that Rwanda’s recent history has proven that there is no amount of destruction that the will to live together can’t rebuild, essentially commending the delegates for a theme they have chosen for their meeting.

In a separate interview with the media shortly after opening the meeting, the minister said that Rwanda is interested in the association of regional mayors serving as a bridge for regional peace and cooperation.

“We need the association to be a true bridge for peace building and cooperation,” he said.

The platform of regional French-speaking local mayors in the Great Lakes region is made up of sixteen mayors; including those from Rwanda’s Kigali, Rubavu, and Rusizi, DRC’s Kinshasa, Goma, Bukavu, Béni, Butembo, Uvira, Bunia, Kisanganai, Lubumbashi, Kalemie, as well as Burundi’s Bujumbura, Gitega, and Ngozi.

Meschac Bilubi, the platform’s current president and Mayor of Bukavu, said members of the group are well mobilised to serve as agents of peace and people-centred cooperation in the region.

“We are all here from all corners of the region and well mobilised for this cause and we are determined to make living together a reality,” he said.

City of Kigali Mayor, Marie-Chantal Rwakazina, said that a special meeting of member cities of the AIMF in the Great Lakes region held yesterday was crucial for nurturing peace and regional exchanges.

“We expect this assembly to contribute to the construction and the consolidation of a lasting peace in our region, trust, respect, mutual benefit, collaboration, and unity among communities, but more especially, win-win trade,” she said.

City of Kigali Mayor Marie-Chantal Rwakazina addresses the meeting yesterday. / Sam Ngendahimana

Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris who heads the group, said members work together to shape the vision of a city of tomorrow that brings sustainable and shared growth.

Created in 1979 by 20 founding cities under the initiative of the mayors of Paris (France) and Québec (Canada), the organisation currently has 307 member cities, including both cities and city umbrella associations from 52 countries across the world.