Kigali, 08 January 2020 - Today, Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Vincent Biruta briefed members of the diplomatic corps based in Kigali on current affairs and key events that took place during the last quarter of 2019. He later held a press conference with local, regional and international media correspondents in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson.
Minister Biruta started his presser by a recap of key milestones registered in the last quarter of 2019, including key global summits hosted in Rwanda and attended by different heads of state as well as key upcoming events. The last quarter of 2019 started with the country receiving the first batch of refugees from Libya. So far, Rwanda have received 306 refugees evacuated from Libya. From 25 – 27 November 2019, Rwanda hosted the Global Gender Summit Early in December last year; Rwanda hosted the 20th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa (ICASA). Still in December of last year, Rwanda also hosted the annual Anti-Corruption Excellence Award ceremony with the presence of the Emir of Qatar.
On the economic front, Foreign Affairs Minister announced that Rwanda’s GDP grew 11.9% during the last quarter of 2019. Economic growth was boosted by services, construction and manufacturing.
On the justice front, Minister Biruta said ‘’we were happy to see justice served in Belgium with a 25-year sentence handed to Fabien Neretse for the crime of Genocide. ‘’We continue to appeal to countries who host individuals accused of genocide crimes to prosecute or extradite them.’’
Addressing Rwanda-Uganda relations, Minister Biruta said that the government of Rwanda welcomes the decision by the Government of Uganda to release nine Rwandans. ‘’It is a good step in the implementation of the Luanda agreement. We hope more others will be freed and that other components of the agreement will be implemented’’ he added. Speaking on border closure Minister Biruta reiterated that the Government of Rwanda never closed its border. ‘’We only advised Rwandans not to travel to Uganda for their security. Once illegal detention and torture of Rwandans are stopped, we are ready to change our travel advisory’’, he added.
Speaking on an alleged balkanization plan of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Foreign Affairs Minister Biruta emphasized that the statements of politicians and some clergymen on a Balkanization plan of the DRC are irresponsible and unfounded words. ‘’It is a dangerous obsession to create some discomfort between the two countries. However, I do not believe that these declarations are likely to jeopardize the good relations between the DRC and Rwanda. We appreciate what DRC has done through operations against armed groups in eastern DRC".
On Burundi relations, Minister Biruta said ‘’we category reject the unfounded accusations that Rwanda has been involved in any attack on Burundian soil, rather, we have experienced a number of attacks from armed groups from Burundi and we have evidence.’’
On East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit, Minister Biruta reminded that the Summit was postponed at the request of a member of the summit, not because of issues or misunderstanding between partner states. ‘’There is no doubt the Summit will take place’’, added Minister Biruta.
Speaking on Rwanda – Morocco relations, Minister Biruta reiterated that the cooperation between the two countries remains dynamic, we are satisfied with our partnership, he added. He later announced that the Minister of State in the Ministry would travel to Morocco next week to follow up on 40 agreements signed with Morocco.
During the press conference, Minister Biruta announced that Norway is ready to host up to 500 migrants from Libya and Sweden has already received seven migrants.
Minister Vincent Biruta was addressing his first press conference since being appointed in November 2019. He also spoke about a range of issues; including preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2020 (CHOGM2020) which are on course and the country should be ready to host the Commonwealth summit in June this year. On Rwanda's diplomacy and foreign policy in 2019, Minister Biruta said that the country registered key milestones, several countries opening embassies in Rwanda while the country also opened missions in Ghana, Qatar and others.