President Paul Kagame yesterday arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum for a two-day state visit, which Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo said signifies “the stepping up of the bilateral relations” between the two countries. On the first day of his visit, President Kagame held a bilateral meeting with his host, President Omar al-Bashir, and attended a state luncheon and banquet held in his honour.
“We had a very productive bilateral discussion earlier headed by the two Heads of State, we had the opportunity to discuss our joint belief and actions in promoting the independence of Africa, including spearheading and supporting strongly the African Union reform,” Mushikiwabo, who is part of the President’s delegation told The New Times last evening.
The minister said Sudan is one of the first countries to put into practice the July 2016 Kigali Decision on Financing the African Union, through which African countries committed to finance the Union’s operations through a 0.2 per cent levy on taxable imports – as part of efforts to help wean the pan-African organisation off foreign aid.
President Kagame, who’s spearheading the AU reform effort, will assume the chairmanship of the African Union next month.
The two leaders, Mushikiwabo said, also had the opportunity to discuss the presence of Rwandan troops in Sudan.
Rwanda was the first country to deploy peacekeepers in Sudan’s western region of Darfur and Kagame arrived in Khartoum on the same day Rwandan troops arrived in Darfur 13 years ago.
“The President of the Sudan took time to appreciate the role of Rwandan troops in bringing back peace and stability in the Darfur region,” Mushikiwabo said, adding that the two countries have had “a very good relationship” over the years.
Presidents Kagame and Al-Bashir also discussed other areas of collaboration, including trade and investment, Mushikiwabo, who is also the Government Spokesperson, said.
She said the Sudanese Minister for Trade is expected in Kigali in February during which the two countries will discuss a trade agreement.
Rwanda’s Trade and Industry minister Vincent Munyeshyaka is part of President Kagame’s delegation, which also includes Defence minister James Kabarebe, and the Secretary-General of the National Intelligence and Security Service Joseph Nzabamwita.
We are looking as well at exploring exchange of experience in what works in terms of development and other good practices, Mushikiwabo said.
On Day Two of his state visit today, President Kagame is expected to deliver a public lecture at the International University of Africa, which Mushikiwabo said will dwell on the “solidarity of Africans as well as working hard and positioning our continent”, with a particular focus on the role of African youth in this effort.
This visit, which is at the invitation of President Al-Bashir, Mushikiwabo said, “was needed.”
The Sudanese leader was in Kigali in August for the inauguration of President Kagame at the beginning of his new term in office, a year after he had also been to the Rwandan capital for the 27th African Union summit during which the two presidents also held bilateral talks.
Sudan’s Foreign Ministry is quoted as saying in a statement that Rwanda has been among the African nations that continued to support Sudan’s issues in the regional and international forums.
The statement added that Rwanda, under Kagame’s leadership, managed to overcome the plight of genocide and destruction during a short period, pointing out that the country’s economy has been ranked among the fastest growing in Africa, according to Sudan Tribune.
In addition to bilateral arrangements, Rwanda and Sudan are both members of regional blocs and frameworks, such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Nile Basin Initiative.