The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: President Kikwete, Uganda, Burundi VPs Jet in for Independence Fete

Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete jetted in at about 09:15 hours this morning and was received by his host President Paul Kagame, as he comes to celebrate with Rwandans the country's 50 years of Independence and 18 years of liberation.

Shortly before President Kikwete's jet touched down at Kigali International Airport, President Kagame and top government officials had separately welcomed the Vice Presidents of Burundi and Uganda, Therence Sinunguruza and Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, respectively.

Celebration events, at national level, are now underway at Amahoro National Stadium.

The celebrations are held under the theme: "A Journey of Resilience" to reflect on the country's post-independence history, its struggles, challenges and lessons learned as well as the way forward.

Apart from that, Rwandans, country wide, are as well celebrating, at Umudugudu [or village] level throughout the country.

Many other international dignitaries are in the country to attend the festivities.

They include: Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, Wole Soyinka, Nigerian playwright and political activist who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, Dr. Jendayi E. Frazer, former Assistant Secretary of state for Africa, now the Director of Carnegie Mellon University new Centre for International Politics and Innovation (CIPI) and Alphonse Ntumba Luaba, the Executive Secretary of International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Rwanda got Independence from Belgium, on July 1, 1962 under the leadership of first President Grégoire Kayibanda.

At the same time, today, Rwandans are also celebrating 18 years after the liberation struggle which brought an end to the Genocide against the Tutsi, in 1994, in which over a million people died in a space of 100 days.

July 4, 1994 marked the beginning of a new chapter for the country after the then Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) rebels, now Rwanda Defence Forces, led by now-President Paul Kagame, over ran Kigali and formed a broad-based government of national unity.

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