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04.07.2011 07:43 Category: MINALOC News


17th Liberation:Shaping our Destiny

From right to left: Lt Gen Charles KAYONGA, MINALOC James MUSONI, Prof Shyaka Anastase and Dr Gerry Caplan

Seventeen years after the genocide and war, Rwanda has achieved a lot in terms of socioeconomic transformation, security and stability, unity and reconciliation; today, the struggle has shifted to development.

The remarks were made on July 3, 2011, during an international conference on liberation with the following theme: “17th Liberation: Shaping our Destiny,” a conference that took place at Kigali Serena Hotel.

The conference was organized by the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense (MINADEF), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINAFFET) and the Ministry for Cabinet Affairs (MINICAAF) and it was officially opened by the Senate President, Hon Vincent BIRUTA, who represented the Head of State, Paul KAGAME.

In his remarks, the Minister of Local Government, James Musoni said that, “patriotism culminated into the struggle to liberate the country whose past leaders were characterized by divisionism, human rights violations, among other ills”.

Minister James MUSONI said that the struggle was the genesis for the country’s political and socio-economic transformation.

“As part of our liberation process, we continued to rebuild and develop the nation for the past seventeen years with the guiding principles being restoration of people’s dignity, upholding their rights and securing their future,” he said.

Minister James MUSONI said that, “liberation had two complementary phases; the war to liberate the country and the struggle for development. Now that the war is over, the struggle has shifted to development. Rwandans are proud of their leadership, and they are empowered to shape their destiny”.

In his opening remarks, Hon Vincent BIRUTA, said that, “when we talk about liberation, comes in mind a people oppressed by a regime that would not respect its citizens’ basic rights, willingly maintaining them in ignorance, divisions of all kinds, and poverty. In Rwanda context, not only people were oppressed but also, a big number of its sons and daughters were denied the right to live in their motherland. In fact, exclusion was the key pillar of the then regime. This situation could not last endlessly, thus a struggle to liberate the country was launched.

Today, there is a lot to be proud of, our country is unified, a favorite place for investment, clean and environment friendly. And this is a country where every citizen is determined and committed to succeed, failing being not an alternative.

 In Rwanda context, liberation as such was not an end in itself but a means to build a better Nation. A nation determined to be part of the game and which is there to win! In other words the struggle is still on; we have just to adapt our strategies to the new targets”.

Key speakers at the conference praised Rwanda’s progress in socio-economic development with majority saying that, ‘a once failed nation has turned into a lead world model.’

In his presentation on ‘Liberation for Nation Building’, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Governance Advisory Council, said that the government has put cultural values at the center of all the national processes which has helped come up with solutions that are relevant to the country’s situation, which solutions are being hailed worldwide.

Dr Gerald Caplan, a leading Canadian authority on genocide and genocide prevention, gave an African perspective of integration with the West which, he said, does affect Rwanda’s liberation struggle.

“Rwanda’s progress and the progress of Africa in general, will be and is limited by external imperatives – the global happenings especially with powerful countries,” said Caplan. He, however, said that, it is up to Africans to stand up and reclaim their liberty.

In his presentation on ‘Liberation: Foundation for Rwanda’s Destiny, Sovereignty and Development’, the Chief of Defense Staff, Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga, said that celebrating the Liberation Day is mainly aimed at reviewing the past, revisiting the cause of the liberation struggle, it’s conduct, the current situation, and drawing lessons for better strategies to attain the ultimate goal of liberation – a free society.”

“We want a country that is more democratic and at peace with itself and its neighbours. This is the future we want; this is the destiny we want. It is also true that, as we discuss the liberation experience, how we reached where we are, we strengthen our resolve to struggle on as well as influence the next generation of leaders to carry on with the struggle,” he said.

Gen. Kayonga defined liberation as a protracted effort or struggle to overcome impediments or obstacles to national security.

“The liberation of Rwanda constitutes many things; it includes more than defeating armed enemies and taking over political power; it consists of addressing human concerns, it includes the government’s ongoing efforts to liberate people from ignorance and sectarianism, from poverty and disease and even repatriating refugees. These human concerns, when not addressed, are actually the ones that constitute legitimate causes for conflict,” he said.

The conference also discussed the responsibility to protect others, citing the case of Rwanda. Participants recalled how Rwanda was abandoned by the International Community when the genocide was taking place in Rwanda in 1994, and that is why Rwandans know better than anyone else, the price of failing to protect people in danger.

The UNAMID Force Commander in Darfur, the Rwandan Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, gave a detailed report on the responsibilities of the army in protecting civilians, underlining the case of Rwanda in the peacekeeping mission.

The conference was attended by the Joint AU-UN Special Representative in Darfur, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the only African to have contested the UN Security Council’s decision to withdraw its forces from Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“Rwanda is a clear example of the failure of the international community,” he said.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, while closing the conference, recognized the importance of Rwanda’s partners in the liberation struggle saying that, as Rwandans talk about their liberation, it is in the back of their minds that they have done well, all things considered, because of the contribution of the partners.

Participants recalled the remarks made by the President Paul KAGAME defining his vision of Rwanda, a free and unified country.

“The foundation for peaceful and stable Rwanda has been established. As we look to the future, we can be confident that the sheer will of our people and their continued hard work and determination will ensure that our shared ideals of socio-economic prosperity and human dignity for all Rwandans prevail”, President Kagame said.


Rwanda’s liberation is celebrated every July 4.