URUGWIRO VILLAGE - President Paul Kagame, yesterday, said the position of the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), which falls vacant in April, should be taken up by either Burundi or Rwanda, as stipulated in the charter establishing the bloc.
Various reports in the regional media have argued that, as new entrants in the bloc, Rwanda and Burundi are not in position to take up the post, claiming that the two countries are not conversant with the workings of the Community. Yet, according to the charter, the seat is filled on rotational basis.
Speaking during the President’s monthly news conference, the first this year, Kagame said that, as far as Rwanda is concerned, there has not been any formal discussion between member states on the position currently occupied by Tanzania’s Juma Mwapachu. Kenya and Uganda have already held the position.
“What is official is that the post is falling vacant in April but what I haven’t been told officially is that there is a dispute...But if we were to go by what is in the news, I think there are certain things that are clear. This is not an elective office - It is rotational country by country.” President Kagame said.
“I don’t know how this (the rotational process) is going to change even when there hasn’t been discussions to change. My expectation is that rules will be followed, and to my knowledge it is the turn for Rwanda or Burundi.”
Kagame, however, added that the issue shouldn’t be seen as a big problem but an issue which member states can deal with, and continue with the good development efforts.
Reacting to the prison sentences handed to convicted Rwandan fugitives, Kayumba Nyamwasa, Patrick Karegeya, Theogene Rudasingwa and Gerald Gahima, President Kagame said that it is important to let justice take its course and the countries concerned to act accordingly.
“This is a case where our countries or other countries do what they are supposed to do. We can do what we are supposed to do, but we don’t tell other countries to do what they are supposed to do,”
“Trying these individuals is doing what our justice system has to do. The response to that by other countries in relation to the process is the business of those countries and we really cannot do much about it,”
“Our country, our justice system intends to pursue them and our country works with many other countries on justice. If countries respond in whatever way, we will continue to pursue justice in as far as this case is concerned.”
With regard to the on-going government programme to eradicate thatched houses (Nyakatsi), and the concerns expressed about some government officials, in various parts of the country, who rushed to demolish the houses without providing alternative accommodation, President Kagame said that those “abusing” the implementation process will be investigated and punished.
He insisted that the government is still committed to the policy to abolish Nyakatsi and to ensure that Rwandans live in decent and planned housing.
He added that the government is committed to support its people by building houses for the needy and providing roofing material to those who can construct houses for themselves.
Kagame pointed out that the leaders who have abused the process should not take away credit from the programme, adding that the next step will be collective efforts to construct housing for the needy.
He, however, noted that there have been cases where some residents have, stubbornly refused, to construct permanent houses even when they have the capacity.
President Kagame, went on to discuss a wide range of issues notably the economic performance. He said the government is focussed on ensuring sustainable economic growth driven by a strong private sector.