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Published:June 5th, 2006 14:45 EST
President Bush Meets With Rwandan Leader

President Bush Meets With Rwandan Leader

By Francis Karugah

President Bush welcomed Rwandan Leader Paul Kagame to the White House on his second visit to the U.S. since he won in a landslide victory in the first national election after his government seized power in 1994.  In the meeting, President Bush praised Kagame for his strong leadership in economic development and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Paul Kagame’s leadership was recognized in March 2003 when he was awarded the young presidents organizations global award for his role in leading and rebuilding Rwanda.


President Bush assured Kagame that the United States would honor its commitment in Sudan’s Darfur region to help deal with what President Bush called a genocide, by repaying Rwanda and other countries for their AU troops commitments. He expressed confidence that the U.S. Congress would pass the budget legislation to authorize the repayments after its return from the memorial break; however, he warned that the bill must meet several financial conditions, or else he was going to veto the bill.


Rwanda was also praised by President Bush for including more women in its parliament-- more than forty elected women, making it the country with the highest number of women parliamentarians in Africa. Bush said Kagame and the Rwandan government had been working hard to promote reconciliation in Rwanda after the genocide in 1993 --which left over 800,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, dead.


Bush further pofessed that Rwanda’s reconciliation could serve as an example to others, but others say that Kagame reconciliation come at a heavy cost in terms of democratic freedom. They say the government is not for media freedom, but the Rwandan government says they must check freedom, because a station had abused that freedom and aired anti-Tutsi programs which led to more killings in 1993. A 2005 press freedom index rated Rwanda 113th out of 167 countries. President Bush said the U.S. would be glad to help find perpetuators of the crime.


The Rwandan President also encouraged American companies to bring in private capital to his country as a way to promote economic development. Bush said that most companies were taking a good look at Rwanda, as they realize the country will treat them fairly and, as it was a free society and with the investments, more jobs would be created.


Kagame thanked the United States for supporting Rwanda on HIV/AIDS, the private sector, and with the African union mission to Sudan, he said the people of Rwanda were very grateful for the support the U.S. government was giving them in establishing peace in the great lakes region.

 Source:  U.S. Dept. of State