President Paul Kagame poses with Alexander De Croo, the Belgian development cooperation minister (2nd R), and foreign ministers Didier Reynders (L) and Louise Mushikiwabo of Belgium and Rwanda, respectively, at Village Urugwiro yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)
President Paul Kagame poses with Alexander De Croo, the Belgian development cooperation minister (2nd R), and foreign ministers Didier Reynders (L) and Louise Mushikiwabo of Belgium and Rwanda, respectively, at Village Urugwiro yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

This was announced, yesterday, at the conclusion of a two-day visit of Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo and his Foreign Affairs counterpart Didier Reynders in Kigali.

President Paul Kagame poses with Alexander De Croo, the Belgian development cooperation minister (2nd R), and foreign ministers Didier Reynders (L) and Louise Mushikiwabo of Belgium and Rwanda, respectively, at Village Urugwiro yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)
President Paul Kagame poses with Alexander De Croo, the Belgian development cooperation minister (2nd R), and foreign ministers Didier Reynders (L) and Louise Mushikiwabo of Belgium and Rwanda, respectively, at Village Urugwiro yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

The two met with Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, where they discussed ways of enhancing trade and political relations.

?After 20 years, we should be moving to a much more stable relationship. We have had some small moments of tension but because of the importance of the relationship and where Rwanda is today ? a country that is more stable and ready to do much more at this time ? that should be an opportunity for us to step up in terms relations,? Mushikiwabo told journalists at a media briefing at her office in Kigali.

She said the two countries agreed to do much more in terms of investments and trade, bringing more business and investment from Belgium and vice versa and also in terms of political dialogues.

She added they agreed to get a much more understanding of each other?s systems and conduct a sincere candid dialogue on any issue.

?We are open to Belgium as our partner and we have agreed that we should be on a constant dialogue on any issue. We might disagree sometimes as it happens sometimes but all that is in the interest of moving forward as partners and friends,? Mushikiwabo said.

De Croo took note of the progress made by Rwanda, saying, ?No one can deny that in the domains of economic growth, healthcare and social topics, the cooperation between Rwanda and Belgium has shown really progress and progress that benefits the whole Rwandan population.?

He added that a permanent dialogue would enable the two countries to discuss broader topics on a continuous basis.

?What is important today is that we have agreed on the next step in our relations. We already made the first step in the previous years, if we continue we will come to a mature and stable relationship,? he said.

Action against FDLR

During the media briefing, the officials spoke extensively on the need to take action against FDLR, the militia made up of elements blamed for the slaughter of more than a million people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Belgian officials promised to mount pressure on the concerned parties.

Reynders said: ?There is need to go farther in fighting against the negative forces, of course the FDLR in the eastern part of DRC is one of them, and to start putting pressure on different partners.?

Mushikiwabo said the case of FDLR should not be looked at as an issue of one country but a regional concern.

?The particular nature of FDLR is that it is a militia that was associated with Genocide and that makes it a responsibility, not just for Belgium, DR Congo or Rwanda, but of the international community. We expect and we have heard from Belgian minister that pressure is needed right now, there is no other way at this point, after more than a year of waiting, that we can get rid of this genocidal militia without military action,? she said.

She insisted it?s high time to take responsibility with no need for further resolutions about the militia group.

?This is a task not just for Belgium pressuring DR Congo but it should be, first and far most, a responsibility of DR Congo where the FDLR has been for the past 20 years,? Mushikiwabo said.

?We know that it (FDLR) has been re-arming, regrouping and recruiting even child soldiers in the last six months.

The outrage should not just be directed at one country, this is a very serious issue in terms of immediate and long term stability of the region.?

Edwin Musoni, The New Times

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