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President Paul Kagame has received letters of credence from three new envoys including Aishatu Aliyu Musa of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Antoine Anfré of the French Republic and Omar Daair of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland accredited to Rwanda.
The three new envoys hosted at Village Urugwiro yesterday will represent their respective countries with residence in Kigali.
Antoine Anfré comes to Rwanda six years after the ambassadorial post has been vacant.
The last French envoy to Rwanda, Michel Flesch, left Kigali in September 2015. Since then; French interests were managed by a chargé d’affaires, an official acting as head of diplomatic mission during the absence of a substantive ambassador.
The appointment is considered a great milestone to revitalize both countries relations that had deteriorated due to the country’s reluctance to admit its role during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
On 27th May 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron made a historic visit to Rwanda.
As he arrived in Rwanda for two-day state visit; Macron visited Kigali Genocide Memorial where he paid tribute to over 250,000 victims laid there and later delivered a speech during which he admitted his country’s role in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi and reiterated commitment to bring Genocide fugitives to face justice.
“Standing here today, with humility and respect, by your side, I have come to recognize our responsibilities,” said Macron.
He said that France had a duty to admit the “suffering it inflicted on the Rwandan people by too long valuing silence over the examination of the truth.”
Macron said that only those who had survived the horrors “can perhaps forgive; give us the gift of forgiveness”.
The visit was seen as a good step towards the normalisation of relations between the two countries.
Anfré, 58, is a diplomat familiar with Africa.
He held different diplomatic roles where he served as the first secretary of the French Embassy in Uganda, then as editor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire (current DR Congo) and Tanzania in the 1990s.
He also served as Embassy Counsellor in London from 2011 to 2014, and as ambassador of France to Niger in 2015 among others.
Jérémie Blin has been serving as Chargé d’Affaires since 2019 prior to the appointment of Anfré.
Speaking to the media after presenting credentials, Ambassador Anfré said that both countries are entering a new era of cordial relations following the release of Duclert report and Macron’s visit to Rwanda.
“We are here to enhance cooperation with Rwanda in the areas of culture, trade and economy. We have already held discussions and made resolutions awaiting implementation,” he revealed.
Anfré reiterated commitment to build from existing foundation to promote bilateral relations rooted on mutual respect.
“Rwanda needs development partners but France also needs new partners in Africa,” he noted.
The visit of Macron to Rwanda was considered a step further to turn a new page for both countries relations.
The new era saw both countries renewing partnership that birthed cooperation in development projects where Rwanda secured Euro 60 million financing through French Agency for Development (AFD) to support the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines as well as social protection initiatives.
French also financed Rwanda’s expansion of electricity with Euro 80 million and more 5.8 million to promote vocational education and training courses.
Else, French Cultural Center has been reopened in Rwanda while other projects are in the pipeline.
Among others, Rwanda and Nigeria have maintained bilateral ties since 1962.
Both countries have cooperation in three main areas including security, air transport and technical cooperation.
The new envoy accredited to Rwanda, Aishatu Aliyu Musa reiterated commitment to continue fostering bilateral relations for mutual interests and draw attention to joint investment.
“I hope to draw much attention to prioritizing investment between the two countries to see members of Rwandan business community travelling to Nigeria and vice versa. It is my goal to make it better.”
Ambassador Omar Daair representing the United Kingdom has revealed that he held discussions with Kagame on different topics including bilateral cooperation in climate change mitigation and education among others.
Amb. Omar explained that both countries have agreements in many areas and share common understanding on regional security and climate change among others.