URUGWIRO VILLAGE - President Paul Kagame yesterday received credentials from 10 Ambassadors who will be representing their respective countries in Rwanda, including new envoys from France and the European Union.
Laurent Contini, who was appointed French envoy to Kigali following the renewal of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France, will now take over the Kigali mission ahead of a visit by French President Nicholas Sarkozy slated for next month.
Shortly after presenting his papers in a formal ceremony characterised by a guard of honour at Urugwiro Village, Contini told journalists at Laico Umubano Hotel that during his tenure, his job will be to consolidate the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“As the new Ambassador, I am assigned to play a modest role in the processes aimed at putting the diplomatic relations of the two countries back on track,” he said.
“There are many areas France will be cooperating with Rwanda, especially in the sectors of development, culture, education, civil society and private sector development”.
The 52-year old diplomat said that hopes are high that the two countries will get back to their ‘traditional friendship’ as they proceed to clear diplomatic blots provoked by the 2007 indictments by French judge Jean Louis Bruguèire, against Rwandan government officials.
The multi-lingual diplomat who boasts of a long diplomatic career in various African and Asian countries, as well as at the United Nations, will be the first envoy to oversee a visit by a French President to the country since 1994.
Meanwhile, the new European Union (EU) envoy to Rwanda, Michel Arrion, said that during his tenure, he will focus on implementing EU interests to support sustainable planning and development in Rwanda.
“I will continue implementing what has already been planned, but as you might know, 2010 is a very important year as it is a mid-term review of our cooperation between the European Union and ACP group,” Arrion told reporters.
“This year we will work, in particular, in the areas of social protection and community development as well infrastructure development, especially roads. We will also focus on supporting the development of the private sector.”
He noted that in 2010, the EU will support regional integration processes, especially the East African Community (EAC) and the Great Lakes Economic Cooperation Programme (CEPGL).
Arrion brings to Rwanda 22 years of experience working with the EU Commission, with his last postings being in Ivory Cost and Liberia. He replaces David McCrae.
Rwanda and EU enjoy cordial bilateral relations and the EU is the biggest supporter of development programmes in the country. It provides direct budget support alongside implementing other rural and infrastructure development programmes.
The new Burundian Ambassador to Rwanda, Col. Remy Sinkazi, also vowed to continue consolidating the good relations between the two neighbours.
On his part, Darius Sternbeck Bubala, the Zambian High Commissioner to Rwanda said that during his tenure, he will focus on promoting trade between the two countries and will also coordinate efforts to apprehend Genocide suspects hiding in Zambia.
Other envoys who presented their credentials included Kim Young Hoon from the Republic of Korea, Sudan’s Hussein Award Ali and Zdravko Bisic from Serbia, Masroor Junego of Pakistan, Singapore’s Yatiman Bin Yusufu and Luis Javier Campuzano, and the Ambassador-designate of Mexico.