President Paul Kagame has said that Rwandans are not a naive people to be oblivious about the politics at play as western nations continue to wrongly blame Kigali for the conflict in neighbouring DRC, saying the country’s enduring spirit will prevail.
Kagame, who was yesterday addressing the third Chamber of Deputies after presiding over the swearing in of the recently elected MPs, said Kigali continued to be at the receiving end of unjust decisions from western capitals, but insisted the “spirit of Rwanda remained intact”.
Recalling the country’s troubled past, he said, “The Rwandan spirit has never failed us. Under very heavy rain, the Rwandan spirit never dissolved, it got wet but not cold; under the scorching temperatures, it did not melt.”
He made a pointed reference to the US government’s decision to add Rwanda on the list of five countries which allegedly use child soldiers in armed conflicts. The others on the list, released on Thursday, are Central African Republic, Sudan, Syria and Burma.
The countries in that category are not eligible for US military assistance.
Paying a special tribute to Rwandan women’s role in the country’s reconstruction process following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Kagame said the country will not be derailed by those who seek to discourage it by comparing it with well known failed states.
“Those who judge us don’t talk about how many women we have in parliament, how many children we have put in school. They rather accuse us of child soldiers (whom we are not responsible for),” Kagame said in reference to the allegations that Kigali backs Congo’s M23 rebels, who have been accused of recruiting child soldiers.
The President added, “I am not complaining, we’re not naive, we are not naive...the spirit of Rwanda should be able to deliver us to another day, another week, another month, and many more years.”
“You must remember that we were killed. Our country almost disappeared but this will not happen a second time,” the President said. “Our country has experienced tragedy, injustice and a lot of mistakes but the Rwandan spirit has never failed us,” he added.
Kagame urged the incoming parliament, and Rwandans in general to work hard bearing in mind that theirs is a country that’s going through unique challenges.
Observing that the country’s enemies and detractors were feeding on the false allegations linking Rwanda to the Congolese rebels, Kagame urged Rwandan to stay the course with nation building and not be distracted by the injustice that is meted out on them by the world’s powers.
“We are treated with injustice but our business is to make sure we work hard to be responsible for ourselves,” he told an audience which included members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Rwanda.
Some believe that might is right but might is not always right, he said. “The weak can sometimes be right. When they are right they come with certain strengths you may not realise.”
The Rwanda Defence Forces, in a statement, described as a surprise allegations that Rwanda was responsible for conscription of child soldiers in a foreign land.
“It is surprising that Rwanda would be liable for matters that are neither on its territory nor in its practices. As a long term partner of the RDF, the United States has ample evidence that our forces have never tolerated the use of children in combat,” a statement signed by Defence and Military Spokesperson Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita reads in part.
Meanwhile, Kagame welcomed the fact that women retained their majority in the Chamber of Deputies saying they had worked hard for the country’s development.
Last month’s elections saw women extend their dominance in the Lower House, breaking the country’s global record of 56 per cent in the 2008-2013 House. Women now occupy 64 per cent seats in the chamber.
Overall, the proportion of women in Rwanda’s bicameral parliament (Senate and Chamber of Deputies) now stands at 58 per cent women, itself a world record.