President Paul Kagame, who is Congo, Brazzaville, on a three-day state visit, on Monday afternoon addressed a joint session of the Congolese Parliament, during which he talked about Rwanda’s relations with Congo Republic, the country’s history as it marks 28 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and a number of initiatives aimed at transforming the African continent. Below is the full speech;
Thank you, Honourable Isidore Mvouba, for the kind introduction.
I am honoured to be here today, and would like to thank you for the invitation to address this distinguished congress.
Permettez-moi d’exprimer mes sincères remerciements à la République du Congo, et au peuple frère congolais pour l’accueil chaleureux qui m’a été accordé dans votre si beau pays.
Our visit here is an opportunity to deepen the friendship between Rwanda and Congo, and strengthen cooperation for the benefit of the citizens of our two countries.
The people of Rwanda and the Republic of Congo are united by a common vision of a stable and prosperous region. We also share the aspiration to bring African countries and people together, working for a strong, thriving continent.
Over the years, these goals have served as a foundation for our friendship, and now, more than ever, is the time to take it even further.
This week in Rwanda, as it happens every April, marks a sober period, when we commemorate twenty-eight years since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. For Rwandans, it is a time to remember, and also recommit to strengthening our national unity.
We thank our friends and partners from around the world, for the solidarity expressed during this time. We appreciate the support of the Government of Congo, represented by the Minister for International Cooperation, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, at the commemoration ceremony held here in Brazzaville.
Rwandans want to make sure that the hard lessons of our tragedy are not wasted, but rather used to make us better people, capable of building a country that Rwandans deserve, and contributing to the well-being and success of our continent.
Today, our continent is facing challenges on multiple fronts.
The Covid19 pandemic has shown us that no one country has the capacity to solve global challenges alone, and that we must work together to save lives, and manage the consequences of threats that affect us all.
We have also been reminded, once again, of the importance of a robust national healthcare system, and the urgency of preparing for future health crises.
We should also apply this kind of readiness to any other kind of crisis.
For health, an important aspect is increased domestic financing, a priority for the African Union, which is tracking progress on an annual basis.
A strong regulatory environment is also essential to our collective efforts. The newly established African Medicines Agency, will enable our continent to regulate and approve its own high-quality vaccines and medicines. Both our countries are signatories to this treaty, and we hope that Congo will proceed to ratification soon.
Notably, Rwanda, as well as Ghana and Senegal, is in the process of establishing a manufacturing facility for the production of mRNA vaccines, in partnership with BioNTech, the African Union and the European Union.
This new capability will increase access to vaccines and other medicines, both domestically and for the wider region. The initiative will also transfer knowledge and know-how, which is important for Africa’s health security.
Peace and security in Africa remain high on the agenda, and both Rwanda and Congo are committed to efforts to resolve ongoing difficult situations, including in the Sahel region, Ethiopia and Somalia. We appreciate the role played by His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso as the Chairperson of the African Union High Level Committee on Libya.
Rwanda continues to be active in United Nations Peacekeeping missions, with over five thousand troops currently serving in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Rwanda also responded to a request from Mozambique, to assist in fighting terrorism in the northern part of the country, which threatened to destabilize the whole region.
Since July last year, Rwandan forces, working together with Mozambican forces, and forces of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), have been able to restore security in Cabo Delgado.
We continue to work with Mozambique to mobilise additional support, needed to sustain the positive gains, and achieve the long-term peace and stability, required for socio-economic development.
In addition, at the invitation of the Government of the Central African Republic, the Rwanda Defence Force helped to ensure that Presidential elections took place peacefully at the end of 2020, and is contributing to reinforcing security.
In our Great Lakes Region, pockets of insecurity persist, and the fight against armed groups, particularly in Eastern DRC, requires close and consistent regional collaboration, especially within the organisations and structures, established to oversee this challenging task.
Regional and continental integration, and cooperation, is an important aspect of Rwanda’s development plans.
Within the Economic Community of Central African States, to which both our countries belong, progress is being registered on many fronts. Parliamentarians have an important role to play in advancing our regional development objectives, particularly in harmonizing laws and regulations across ECCAS.
A few days ago, the East African Community welcomed the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the 7th member. This brings the population of the East African Community to around 300 million, opening up opportunities in all sectors, for the people of our region and beyond.
This is a significant development, because strong Regional Economic Communities, are essential building blocks for successful continental integration, including the immense opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Tomorrow, here in Brazzaville, our two countries will further advance our bilateral relationship by signing several agreements in key sectors focused on economic cooperation and cultural exchange. We look forward to continue working together, in a mutually productive and beneficial partnership, for the people of Congo and Rwanda.
In particular, our joint efforts should continue to provide opportunities for young Africans, who are Africa’s biggest and most valuable resource, to enable our youth to utilise and benefit from their energies and talents.
Allow me to reiterate Rwanda’s wish, to further strengthen our friendship and cooperation with Congo.
Amidst the uncertainty of the ongoing global security situation and the Covid19 pandemic, our partnership can serve as a positive engine for stability, growth, and prosperity in our region, and on our continent.
I cannot conclude without mentioning the most important point.
We know the problems that Africa faces. And we also know the solutions. What is missing is for us to move together, from words, to action, with a sense of urgency.
We cannot take pride in saying the right things, for decades, and then find ourselves many years from now, having said the right things, but not actually achieved much. We need to move to deliver what we have promised ourselves, but above all promised our citizens.
Africa has been talking about integration and unity for as long as Africa has existed. We need to continue making fast steps. With the vast knowledge and resources our continent has, there is no reason to still be where we are today.
There are conflicts on the continent that have lasted decades, and there is no explanation for that, other than not doing what we know is right.
It is high time to do better.
Once again, distinguished members, I want to thank you very much for the honour of addressing this Congress, and for your kind attention.
Je vous remercie.