Rwanda: Five Takeaways From Minister Biruta's News Conference

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson Dr. Vincent Biruta hosted a press conference on Thursday, July 28.

The minister, accompanied by Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Spokesperson Col. Ronald Rwivanga, addressed various topics related to regional and global affairs that have made headlines over the last couple of months.

Here are the five highlights

On the deployment of Rwandan troops to restore peace in Mozambique

Minister Biruta said that no single country has an issue with the presence of Rwandan troops in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado Province, where they are helping fight insurgents.

The minister was clarifying reports that some countries particularly, members of the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC), had concerns with Rwanda deploying a joint force ahead of them.

Biruta acknowledged that several comments were made when Rwanda deployed troops to Mozambique, but he said: "These were probably comments made in individual capacity,"

What we can say is that before we deployed, we had consultations with different stakeholders such as the African Union and concerned countries, particularly those in SADC, and others like France, USA, Portugal and China, among others,"

"We did not just wake up one morning and decide to deploy. We consulted and after that we went on to deploy. Whatever was said in this case cannot be put on countries but rather individuals in their own capacity," Biruta said.

Rwanda, at the request of Mozambique, earlier this month deployed a 1,000-person contingent of RDF and Rwanda National Police (RNP) to Mozambique, as part of the efforts to push out insurgents and restore Mozambican state authority in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Rwanda committed to work with global partners in fighting Covid-19

Biruta said that the Covid-19 pandemic is still a global challenge.

He said that, like Rwanda, countries across the globe have put in place measures to protect their populations and mitigate the socio economic impact caused by the pandemic.

These efforts have unfortunately widened inequalities between the rich and the poor which has led to challenges like hoarding of Covid vaccine.

"Rwanda is committed to working with all willing partners to find global solutions for this global problem as no one is safe until everyone is safe."

He added, "We will also continue discussions with different partners on how to boost our capabilities to manufacture medical products including vaccines."

Rwanda was in May this year selected as one of the hubs for vaccine manufacturing in Africa, besides Senegal and South Africa.

RDF allays fears of reprisal attack

Following their recent deployment in Mozambique, the Rwandan military has moved to ease concerns arising from the fact that the development could potentially attract retaliation from the Islamic militants.

"We knew that there is a possibility we could be targeted, but we are ready to take that risk in the name of our values of protecting civilians," said RDF Spokesperson Col Ronald Rwivanga.

"We committed ourselves to protect civilians wherever they are... this is something that we decided as a government," Rwivanga said.

Uganda, Burundi ties

Efforts to restore and improve ties with Uganda were described as 'stagnant' by Minister Biruta.

He said that while there has been progress in the release of Rwandans who were illegally arrested, Rwanda continues to witness harassment of more nationals in Uganda, continued operations of anti-Rwandan government elements as well as territorial violations.

"Nonetheless, we stand ready to strengthen our relationship with all our neighbours including Uganda," said Biruta.

On the side of Burundi, however, the relations have seen some progress, the minister said.

"We have had several engagements, the Prime Minister led a delegation to Burundi this month, heads of military intelligence services have been meeting, they have met more than once, and we shall keep engaging with the government of Burundi. So far, there is some progress," Biruta said.

He said that other actions are expected to follow especially following the Prime Minister's visit.

Rwanda's Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente who visited Burundi this month during the country's 59th Independence celebrations said that Bujumbura was ready to play its part in the efforts to fully restore ties.

He said that President of Burundi Gen Evariste Ndayishimiye welcomed his visit, describing it as a strong signal of a new chapter in the relations of the two countries.

The two countries look forward to normalizing relations which deteriorated since 2015.

Pegasus campaign aimed at Undermining Rwandan courts

According to Biruta, recent reports linking Rwanda in the use of Pegasus are l designed to undermine the gains made by the country's judicial system.

He stressed that the accusations are politically motivated, and that the methodology used to come up with the accusations were dubious.

Another element of the Pegasus campaign, the minister said, is the recent 'pressure and tentative' meddling with court proceedings from those who 'teach' us about the independence of courts and equitable justice.

The Government of Rwanda, he noted, will not cede to any pressures and will deliver justice in all fairness, "as it is our constitutional responsibility to the people."

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