News: Kagame at West Point; Gul in Kin; Constitutional Revision

News items of interest:

  • Rwandan President Paul Kagame gave a speech at US military academy West Point yesterday – it was parents’ day and he was visiting his son, who goes to school there. The topic: How sovereignty shouldn’t trump humanitarian imperatives.
  • Meanwhile, the US State Department has released its yearly appraisal of human rights in Rwanda – it’s a pretty balanced and interesting read, especially given the elections in August. At the same time, US Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) gave a speech on democracy in Africa in which he criticized – albeit lightly – Kagame’s government for the restrictions on press and opposition parties.
  • Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul arrived in Kinshasa with a large business delegation of 150-250 people (depending on which report you read). He said his country wants to invest in forestry and mining to boost trade from $20 to $100 million per year.
  • The national assembly opened its spring session in Kinshasa with its president Evariste Boshab announcing that they would be looking into revising the constitution – this had been expected, as they need to amend outdated parts regarding the creation of new provinces and decentralization, but the opposition has warned against changing presidential term limits, which the constitution explicitly forbids. The other law on the table is the creation of a new electoral commission, which is much needed given upcoming elections.