Kigali — President Paul Kagame has called on Rwandans to protect the progress God has blessed their country with over the years.
Addressing a wide-ranging audience of leaders at the National Prayer Breakfast at Kigali Serena Hotel, yesterday, Kagame said Rwandans should not be held accountable for those who have made it their mission to destroy the nation the Rwandan people have built.
He said he had dedicated his life to building and defending Rwanda and invited his countrymen to play their rightful role.
"The time you swore me in to be your leader you were telling me to always solemnly defend this country, to stand up for its people. But each one of you has a part to play, whether it's through preaching or rebutting false allegations against Rwanda" the President said.
Although investigations are still ongoing, there have been continuous allegations, especially in the media, that the Rwandan government might have been behind the death of former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya around the New Year's Day in a South African hotel.
While Kagame did not mention Karegeya by name, he said those who turn against their motherland and choose to kill innocent citizens for selfish interests should always be prepared to bear the consequences.
"God gives us the strength to build but also the ability to protect what we build. Those who have forgotten that they owe who they are to Rwandans are now plotting against their country and have failed to understand that they can never be above the nation or its people," he said.
The Head of State said foreigners who point an accusing finger at Kigali (in line with protecting the country against any aggression) do 1,000 times as much as the allegations they level against Rwanda "in defence of their nations".
President Kagame reminded those present of the role some have played in publicly threatening to overthrow the government and their active participation in the grenade attacks that have killed innocent civilians
"I do not have to be apologetic about people who forget that Rwanda made them who they are and end up betraying it and killing innocent Rwandan citizens, including children and women," he added.
The President also said the breakfast prayer was an opportunity to pause and reflect.
"It's time to reflect and evaluate our goals and how far we have come. This is the time to thank God and also all Rwandans for the role they play in building the nation," he said.
He congratulated Rwandans for a feat accomplished over the last few years against all odds, partly attributing it to the trust the citizens have in their leaders.
Kagame urged Rwandans not to spend their time wondering why their country had to go through such a tragic history but instead draw energy and inspiration from that past to build a better country.
"We cannot change our past. Our past should serve as a lesson and source of energy to build a brighter future," Kagame told Rwandans.
More than a million people were slaughtered in a spell of 100 days in 1994 at the hands of a genocidal regime while the rest of the world watched.
The Genocide against the Tutsi, a culmination of sustained state-sponsored violence against the Tutsi dating back to 1959, left the country with a broken social fabric and an economy in ruins.
Kagame asked Rwandans to believe in themselves and value who they are as Rwandans as they continue to pursue their dreams.
The annual event is organised by Rwanda Leaders Fellowship, led by Reverend Antoine Rutayisire, the president of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
In his sermons earlier on, Rev. Rutayisire (of the Anglican Church, Remera Parish), said spiritual leadership is key to nation building.
Chiding past regimes that espoused ethnic divisions and segregation, Rutayisre invited all Rwandans to partake in building a nation without any form of discrimination.
"There was a time when some Rwandans were denied a country and others discriminated against. There was a time when those who should have protected us were the ones killing us. Today, being Rwandan has a true meaning. We have a nation with no room for discrimination," he told those present.
Reading from the book of Deuteronomy 8:12, Rutayisire urged Rwandans to always remember how God returned each one of them home from different parts of the world over the last 20 years and endeavour to keep His commands.
He lauded the 'Ndi Umunyarwanda' initiative, calling on Rwandans to embrace the programme since it comes to cement their unity and common identity.
Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the vice governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, and a member of the Rwanda Leaders Fellowship, outlined the various achievements the country had posted over the last couple of years, including peace and security, improved business environment, more access to quality health care, education and impressive economic growth. The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, was among those present.
The leaders also prayed for a peaceful and fruitful 2014.