Rwanda Foreign policy issues

Rwanda Foreign Policy

The country in a regional and international context

The Rwandan state is heavily economically dependent on several multilateral (World Bank, IMF, EU and AfDB) and bilateral donors, such as Great Britain and the USA. As a result, diplomatic relations with these development partners are at the heart of foreign policy. In the long term, Rwanda’s leadership aims to gradually reduce this dependency. One of the priorities of Rwanda’s foreign policy is the intensification of ongoing regional integration into the East African Community (EAC), the consolidation of the relationship with the western neighbor Democratic Republic of the Congo and the improvement of the country’s image with the aim of attracting potential investors and tourists.

According to ehistorylib, Rwanda plays an active role in United Nations and African Union peace missions. Approx. 6500 Rwandan soldiers and police officers (as of January 2019) are currently involved in peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Mali, Central African Republic and South Sudan. This makes Rwanda one of the three strongest troop-providing countries for UN peace missions worldwide.

In 2013 and 2014, Rwanda last sat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two-year term.

The East African Community (EAC)

The relationship with the East African neighbors is fundamentally dominated by the pursuit of regional integration. The accession of Rwanda and Burundi into the existing previously from the countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda East African Community (EAC) in June 2007. Since then, were common institutions created and several protocols signed that end, the Community aimed relative to an economic and political union respectively. Rwanda plays an active role in this. With Richard Sezibera, Rwanda provided the 4th General Secretary of the EAC between 2011 and 2016.

The conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

For some years now, regional policy has been largely shaped by the conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several rebel organizations operate from there, including the “Front de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR)” rebel army, which is hostile to the Rwandan government.

Rwanda Foreign policy issues

Conflict portrait

In the so-called Congo Wars (at times also known as the First African World War ) that followed the genocide in Rwanda, Rwanda stood in the DR Congo from 1996 to 2002, with its allies Uganda and Burundi and the army of the, supported by Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia DR Congo opposite.

After arduous negotiations with the participation of the international community, an agreement was reached that made an official withdrawal of troops by the foreign powers possible. After that, however, fighting continued in the form of rebel wars, mainly in the eastern part of the country.

One of the main rebel groups involved was the ally of Rwanda and of General Laurent Nkunda quoted National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). Nkunda is a member of the Banyamurenge ethnic group – a Tutsi minority originally from Rwanda who have lived in the Kivu provinces since pre-colonial times. This section of the population has been fighting for legal recognition as citizens of the country without success for years. Instead, the community has seen itself repeatedly discriminated against, politically instrumentalized and subjected to massive threats and reprisals in the course of recent history due to its ethnic affiliation. The CNDP and its predecessor and successor organizations see themselves as legitimate protectors of the Banyamurenge.

In 2004 General Nkunda rejected the interim government negotiated between the Congolese government and various rebel groups and withdrew to North Kivu Province. From there he controlled a large catchment area for a period of about five years, which his troops defended against both the Congolese government army and the second main rebel group, FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Liberation pour le Rwanda). Finally, the Rwandan leadership changed its strategy and in January 2009 reported the arrest of Nkunda on Rwandan territory near the border with the Congo. This took place as part of a political agreement between the long-standing conflict countries Rwanda and the DR Congo, which led to the integration of CNDP fighters into the national army, to significantly improved relations between the two countries and cooperation in the fight against the FDLR Hutu militias.

Relations with Germany

Relations with Germany have remained good since the colonial past (1898-1916) until today. This rather short colonial occupation of Germany is mostly associated in Rwanda with more positive memories, such as the construction plans for a regional railway line that were never implemented. Germany enjoys a high reputation as a partner with no selfish interest. An extraordinarily close partnership between the federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda has existed since 1982. In this context, not only have numerous development projects been implemented over the years, but intensive contacts have also been established between schools, parishes, various interest groups and individuals.

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