Rwanda asks for assistence in democratisation process

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afrol News, 4 February - Nine year after the genocide in Rwanda, government has decided it is time to normalise governance. The transition period of limited democracy is to end with general elections later this year, but President Paul Kagame says the country need international support for these "historic processes".

In 1994, almost one million Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the largest genocide on African soil. The Tutsi militia in which Mr Kagame participated accomplished to overthrow the extremist regime in Kigali and thereby put an end to the slaughtering of Rwandan civilians. Since that, the "government of national unity" has worked to achieve national reconciliation, although not alway by democratic means.

Since November last year, Rwanda is preparing for an end to the transistion period. There is to be made a new constitution and parliamentary and presidential elections will be organised in July.

Meeting foreign diplomates, President Kagamen says that his government now is prepared to enter into democracy. Within short "we shall have the conclusion of the constitution-making process and a new constitution that will provide the guidelines for the political situation that will unfold after the end of the transition," he announced.

The President said the draft constitution would be presented to government and parliament, and thereafter to the people of Rwanda in a referendum by May this year. Earlier drafts - which had been built on proposals from a government commission, organisations, popular meetings and the Diaspora - emphasised on Rwandan unity, gender and human rights, but presidential powers were to remain strong and freedom of the press limited.

The Rwandan President now however appeals to partner countries to support eh democratisation process to enable the government to "deliver on the expectations of both the people of Rwanda and the international community." The Rwandan government meanwhile would guarantee that "we have all this done in a peaceful environment, despite the challenges we still face."

On the challenges that still lie ahead, President Kagame in particular noted that the establishment of a national unity government in Congo Kinshasa (DRC) was crucial for regional peace and stability. "We believe that the establishment of a transition government of national unity in the Congo will be very helpful not only to the Congo itself, but also its neighbours," he said.

According to the Rwandan government, the country's transition period has been as long as it has been due to the instability originating in neighouring Congo Kinshasa. Kinshasa governments have supported the ex-FAR and Interahamwe militias responsible for the 1994 genocide, and provided arms and training for these troops in Congo after 1994. This is the reason given for Rwanda's participation in the Congolese war.

A transition government in Kinshasa therefore "would also help in disarming ex-FAR and Interahamwe, and will also lead to the final conclusion of the repatriation and reintegration process," President Kagame said.

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