KIGALI - The Commonwealth Group has pledged to support its newest member, Rwanda, to improve in several areas; including the judiciary, economy, media, education, good governance and many other institutions that are a backbone of development.
Addressing journalists at Kigali Serena Hotel, following a two-day working visit, the Secretary General of the bloc, Kamalesh Sharma, said Rwanda’s progress in the last 15 years has been impressive which has prompted the group to cooperate with the government in consolidating the development of the country.
Sharma noted that the unanimous acceptance of Rwanda into the group was a sign of recognition of the country’s resilience to emerge from pain and destruction caused by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, to one of the most promising economies in the world.
“The first impression after my first visit? I think that Rwanda is a great example of human resilience,” he said.
“To be able to come so far in such a short period of time, and to be so determined to overcome the past, gives everyone and every society, courage to do whatever they want to do.”
He noted that Rwanda is the first country to have been admitted into the Commonwealth under the new procedures adopted by the Heads of State meeting held in Kampala two years ago.
Sharma said that Rwanda scored highly on most of the areas assessed by the Secretary General. He went on to say that the country had registered some positive attributes that don’t even exist sin some older member states.
“There are some areas of course where improvement is needed, but whatever was in the report was unanimously accepted by the Heads of State.
“We also agreed that we develop a plan of corporation, pointing out some of those areas where we have to start from, and that is what I have been here to find out,” Sharma told the press.
He said that another Commonwealth team will be coming into the country to continue with more assessment of areas which require urgent cooperation, ahead of the formal ceremony to hoist Rwanda’s flag at Marlborough Square in London, slated for March.
The secretary-General noted that Rwanda has much to gain from the Commonwealth and vice versa. He cited fighting corruption and promoting gender equality as some of the areas other member states can benefit from Rwanda’s experience.
He said the Commonwealth, if called upon will send a monitoring team to the country’s August presidential election, as it has always done in other member states.
He said that the Commonwealth promotes free and fair democratic processes and would be more than willing to lend hand to Rwanda.
“We sent monitors during the last parliamentary elections. I will offer that in the presidential election now coming up in August, we would be more than happy to send a team,” Sharma said. Foreign affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said that Rwanda would strongly welcome the Commonwealth monitoring team and both officials said that they will do more to formally agree on that.
“We are more than thrilled to welcome a Commonwealth election monitoring group. It is a way for us to interact even more in a specific area of interest both to the Commonwealth and us,” Mushikiwabo said.
During his visit, Sharma paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame and also visited a number of ministries including the Justice Ministry. He also visited the Parliament as well as the Media High Council.
He promised to continue working with the above Institutions to even make them stronger.