Just like a blowing wind, 2009 has suddenly gone by and soon it will be time to reap from our resolutions for 2010.
But before that, take time to review last year’s events that offered a fair share of hard-earned gains on the diplomatic front as Rwanda stood out of a crowd of unstable nations and managed not to succumb to the volatile situation in the region and the globe. A random select may offer a glimpse into this fact file.
Joining the Commonwealth: Days come and go but November 28th, 2009 will enter Rwanda’s history record. It is a date that ushered in a new era and brought to an end a lengthy and protracted wait to join as the 54th member of the Commonwealth, a grouping of predominantly English speaking countries. And the wait was well-deserved.
Welcoming the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, recreates sweet memories of a day when most Rwandans had their eyes glued to the television eagerly waiting for the endorsement of the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago.
Chairing of the Summit of Heads of State of EAC: Although President Paul Kagame took up the position in November 2008, his one-year rotational term covered most of last year when he steered the five-member group into improved collaboration as the nations geared to set up a single market under a customs union.
Accession to the EAC Customs Union: Rwanda and Burundi became members of the EAC Customs Union on 1st July, joining the other three founder members on an initiative that will promote free trade across borders.
Hat trick score at the ITB Berlin tourism exhibition 2009: For the third time in a row Rwanda emerged as The Best African Exhibitor at the world’s premier tourism trade fair, Internationale Tourismus Börse (ITB-Berlin) 2009 held from 11th to 15th March, last year. Rwanda beat 34 African countries and used the tourism occasion to market its recovery from genocide and development path spearheaded by focused leadership.
Mending diplomatic relations with France: Most of us still have flashbacks of that late evening live press conference hosted by the former and present Foreign Affairs ministers to announce that Rwanda and France were again friends not foes.
As a show of commitment, even France’s Foreign Affairs minister Bernand Kouchner was in the country last week to cement an already oiled fraternity that came after what seemed like a long wait of severed relations.
Kados for fruitful underground diplomatic efforts that saw an end to stormy relations and paved way for the reopening of embassies and assigning of diplomats to both nations.
Throwing out case against Rose Kabuye: As if to crown a good ending, the case against Rose Kabuye, the Chief of State Protocol, was found to be baseless and later thrown out of court by a French Judge. This has marked a happy ending as Rwanda and France re-established diplomatic relations
Rwanda considered 13th most peaceful in Africa: Rwanda beat most regional states by ranking 13th most peaceful country in Africa, according to a report released by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
Giving out meddles to foreigners in recognition of support to end genocide: The 15th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi held on July 27th last year was marked in style as the government honoured foreign dignitaries for the support to stop the 1994 genocide.
The recipients were President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Federal Republic of Ethiopia and the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.
Visit by Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank: Rwanda could not wait to showcase its achievements and recovery to none other than Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank who visited the country on 12th August, last year.
President awarded International Medal of Peace: The 2009 Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Public Service: For his contribution to world peace order, President Kagame was, in September 2009, awarded the International Medal of Peace by renowned preacher Rick Warren, adding to an already bulging list of international medals and awards, including the 2009 Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Public Service given to him by former US president Bill Clinton.
Engaging Rwandan Diaspora: In line with its set goals, the 7th Annual National Dialogue held December 11, 2009, reserved time to recognize contribution and improve on ways of engaging the Rwandan Diaspora, diplomats and development partners in national development.
Rwanda/Congo Joint Operations against FDLR: The two nations launched a joint DRC/Rwanda one month operation code-named Operation Umoja Wetu against FDLR rebels operating in the Congo. The landmark event ended with demonstrations of both armies who matched back home and celebrated the destruction of many rebel camps and the repatriation of over 5,000 former rebels and civilians. The operation marked a new beginning of peaceful co-existence for both nations.
Meeting between Presidents Kagame and Kabila: Nothing measures the cooling of hostilities between DR Congo and Rwanda better than the historic meeting of Presidents Kagame and Kabira held August 6th, last year in Gisenyi and Goma. The final communiqué outlined commitments aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between both nations in several key areas.
The list of such meetings held last year includes that of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Olusegun Obasanjo, President Horst Koehler of the Federal Republic of Germany, Neal Wolin, the US Deputy Secretary of Treasury and former US President Bill Clinton in New York met mid last year.
What more would one request for apart from crossing fingers and praying for another good year marked with more accomplishments on the diplomatic front.
Rwanda steadily embarked on a long journey to shade off shadows of a regrettable genocide; this has now climaxed into a new era to claim a position on the global stage as a true custodian of regional peace and security, promoter of inclusiveness and recognition and an advocate for transformation across barriers.
And the trend has already been set. Even before completing this New Year’s wish list, January 2010 opened with a bang as news filtered in that President Kagame was named among 50 faces that shaped the decade. Need I say more! This is definitely the beginning of another good Year for Rwanda!