News and Views

Rwanda marks 50th anniversary in style

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The government of Uganda last evening stood in solidarity with the people of Rwanda as the country marked 50 years of independence. “The people of Uganda warmly congratulate the people of Rwanda, President Kagame and the RPF on attaining 50 years of independence. Rwanda has had its fair share of post-colonial challenges. However under able leadership, she has overcome all these obstacles,” Regional Affairs Minister Asuman Kiyingi said yesterday. The minister’s affirmations were in line with recent détente between Kigali and Kampala with leaders of both countries holding several consultative meetings on a wide range of issues affecting the Great Lakes region. Rwanda becomes the first country in the Great Lakes region to celebrate a Golden Jubilee, having attained its independence on July 1, 1962. Burundi also marked 50 years of independence yesterday, although celebrations will be held today in the country’s capital, Bujumbura. Uganda will mark 50 years of her Independence from Britain come October 9 this year. Kenya will celebrate its Golden Jubilee on December 12, 2013, followed by Tanzania in July 26, 2014. A government delegations led by Vice President Edward Ssekandi yesterday travelled to Kigali to be part of the celebrations.

The colourful celebrations were held at the Amahoro National Stadium and were graced by among others Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Burundi Vice President Therence Sinunguruza and the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Masire-Mwamba.
Other guests included Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka, former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Dr. Jendayi Frazer, and the Executive Secretary of International Conference for the Great Lakes Region, Alphonse Ntumba Luaba.

Mr Kiyingi reaffirmed that Uganda-Rwanda bilateral relations and trade ties were at their best, with President Museveni and President Paul Kagame enjoying good personal and working relations.

Rwanda’s independence largely came as a result of the actions of an independence movement that arose in the then Belgian Congo in the 1950s.

This year’s celebrations are under the theme: “A Journey of Resilience” and also symbolically marked 18 years since the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took power, ending 100 days of Genocide that saw close to a million people killed.

“Rwanda is at peace with herself, having overcome ethnic difficulties that nearly tore her apart. The Rwandan people are more than neighbours, they are our brothers and sisters,” Mr Kiyingi added.

President Kagame has rejected as “absurd” fresh criticism from international rights organisations and UN that the RPF is supporting the renewed wave of instability ravaging Eastern DR Congo. Kigali strongly denies all allegations that it is, in any way, supporting the perpetrators of the troubles.

The flare-up in fighting between Kinshasa and Congolese Tutsi militia under the command of war crimes indictee, the renegade Gen. Bosco Ntanganda, has seen thousands of refugees’ stream into Uganda in the past four months.

In the late 19th Century, Rwanda and Burundi were annexed by Germany and were conquered by Belgium during the First World War.On July 1, 1962, the colony became independent and it took another two years before the governments of the two countries became wholly separate.

jnjoroge@ug.nationmedia.com

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