The visiting UK Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, William Hague, has commended Rwanda’s cooperation with regional countries in efforts to bring security in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Hague addressed reporters yesterday shortly after meeting President Paul Kagame and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo at Village Urugwiro, where the leaders discussed the need for a lasting solution to the conflict in Eastern DRC, as well as other bilateral issues. The UK diplomat described the efforts of regional states in the Great Lakes region to bring back peace in the DRC as “positive” in addition to commending Rwanda’s role.
Hague met Rwandan leaders as part of a trip that he is conducting in the region along with UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, to highlight the terrible human cost of warzone rape, and to call on Governments worldwide to address this issue. Rape is rampant in eastern DRC, where armed groups including the FDLR, made up of elements who committed the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, have been using it as a weapon of war against local communities.
In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) became the first international court to find an accused person guilty of rape as a crime of Genocide. The judgement against Jean Paul Akayesu a former mayor, ruled that rape and sexual assault constituted acts of Genocide as they were committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, the Tutsi In Rwanda, between 100,000 and 250,000 women were raped during the 1994 Genocide.
Rwanda has been cooperating on regional efforts to improve security in eastern DRC through working with other regional countries under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and it has also signed the UN-brokered Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region. The cooperation framework was signed last month in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, and it binds the DRC along with ten other countries of the region: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Strong Partnership with the UK:
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo noted that the UK diplomat’s trip is likely to boost relations between the two countries in the next few months. While Hague was critical of Rwanda after a highly controversial UN Group of experts report alleging support to M23 appeared, Mushikiwabo described Rwanda and the UK as strong partners.
“Friends sometimes agree, sometimes disagree. Disagreements have been less than our agreements. So, I have no reason to believe that the partnership and the relationship between Rwanda and the UK have changed dramatically, not at all,” she said. “I think the relationship between our two countries is solid.”