KIGALI - US President George W. Bush has emphasized the need for reconciliation in Rwanda following the 1994 Genocide, which claimed the lives of at least one million people.
The American President was speaking yesterday shortly after touring Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and laying a wreath at the museum.
The centre, located in Gisozi, a Kigali City suburb, has the remains of over 250,000 Rwandans who were killed in the 1994 Genocide.
“This is a moving place…it is necessary for the world to understand what happened in Rwanda,” Bush, flanked by his wife Laura, said. He said that what he saw (inside the memorial) demonstrates what people went through “especially the children who are always vulnerable in such situations.”
This was Bush’s first stop in the country immediately after his arrival at Kigali International Airport from Tanzania.
Bush, who became the first sitting US president to visit the Genocide Memorial Centre, also met with President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro, Kacyiru.
In 1998, his predecessor Bill Clinton, visited Rwanda but this was before the completion of the genocide memorial site. Mr. Clinton appologized to the Rwandan people for his country’s failure to stop the Genocide.
However, after his presidency, Clinton has since made several trips to Rwanda and spent long hours in upcountry areas where his foundation is running philanthropic activities.
Meanwhile, during his one-day visit, Bush also inaugurated the new multi-million-dollar complex housing the American Embassy in Kacyiru, Kigali, before visiting Lycee de Kigali in Rugunga, where he talked to students.
Bush’s entourage also included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who rejoined the President’s trip after mediating talks in Kenya on Monday. Later yesterday, Bush moved on to his fourth stop on his second presidential African tour – in Ghana – from where he will go to Liberia, the last leg of the five-nation tour.
He kicked off his six-day Africa visit with a stop in Benin.