President Kagame on Saturday evening met with Rwandans from several European cities in Brussels at a festive gathering that comes four years since his last visit to Belgium. President Kagame is on a working visit to Brussels and will on Monday attend the fifth edition of the European Development Days.
Addressing nearly 2700 Rwandans and friends of Rwanda who had braved the unusually cold Belgian winter and travelled many hours to meet with him, President Kagame said that although each one of them were living outside Rwanda for various reasons, had come at different times and under different circumstances, Rwanda belonged to all of them, and what everyone seeks was a Rwanda for Rwandans, not for Tutsis, or Hutus or Twas or even foreigners – but for Rwandans.
President Kagame spoke of the values that guide the new Rwanda, particularly the rejection of the culture of corruption, and importance of self worth of every Rwandan saying
“As Rwandans we have to believe in our own worth, and not expect to get this as a gift from someone else. People who do not value themselves cannot achieve development – we have seen this in the past in our country and on our continent”.
President Kagame cited success in many sectors in Rwanda including education – which has seen a massive increase in the number of children in schools education since 1994; agriculture – where Rwanda has for the first time in its history achieved food security; private sector development – where Rwanda has been a top performer in business reforms; governance – where decentralization has empowered citizens; aid effectiveness – where Rwanda has earned the reputation of utilizing donor support to great impact for the benefit of Rwandans; as well unparalleled security in the region and beyond.
On the choices that Rwandans make for themselves, President Kagame questioned those who seemed to demand a different outcome when Rwandans had come out in record numbers to the election campaigns and to vote in defiance of the lies being propagated about their country;
“For those claim to be experts on this, what should be the “correct” percentage in election results? There is a reason Rwandans voted the way they did, who else has the right to speak for them except themselves? It is Rwandans that vote, not journalists, not NGOs, not human rights organizations”.
President Kagame said that in building a new Rwanda, there was room for debate, competition of ideas, forgiveness and compromise but there not divisionism of the kind that once destroyed Rwanda will ever be allowed. He questioned why Rwanda should always be spoken for by those who want to destroy it, and encouraged those who loved their country, wanted the best for it and represented the vast majority of Rwandans to make their voices heard.
To great applause, President Kagame called on those who were ready to return to Rwanda to return with him;
“… and those of you who prefer to stay and be productive in Europe there please do so, but no one should stay as a refugee or to be used as a tool by those wanting to see Rwanda fail.”
Following his address, President Kagame interacted with the gathering and responded to numerous questions and proposals on issues ranging from ideas to develop different sectors, cases of injustice, Rwandan consular services in Europe as well as professional development among diaspora youth.