Cablegate: Rwanda Scenesetter for President Bush's Trip To


DE RUEHLGB #0111/01 0420917
P 110917Z FEB 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary and Introduction: President Bush's
February 19 visit to Rwanda is eagerly anticipated by the
Government of Rwanda (GOR) and the Rwandan people. President
and Mrs. Bush will be warmly welcomed. This visit is already
widely viewed as serving to underscore the U.S. Government's
deep partnership with Rwanda on a wide-range of bilateral,
regional and global issues such as economic development, the
situation in Darfur and fighting the spread of global
scourges such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Finally, Rwandans
deeply appreciate that the United States is the largest
bilateral aid donor operating in Rwanda, with almost $170
million in assistance in FY07.

2. (SBU) Although Rwanda is a highly stable country,
it is still struggling to overcome the legacy of the
devastating 1994 genocide when upwards of one million
Rwandans lost their lives, and the nation's
infrastructure, economy and society were terribly
damaged. Today, the Government is deeply
committed to forging national unity through the
reconciliation of Rwanda's ethnic groups, and has made
great strides in restoring security and establishing
the underpinnings for a developing democracy.
The economy has been largely rebuilt and Rwanda is
seeking to position itself as "the Singapore of
Africa." Yet much remains to be done, and we are
working with the Government of Rwanda (GOR) to
finalize a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Threshold
Country Plan.

3. (SBU) Regionally, Secretary Rice's December facilitation
of the Heads of State Tripartite-Plus Summit in Addis Ababa
built upon and strengthened the November Nairobi agreement.
In this agreement Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC) agreed on a "common approach" to resolve the
security threat posed by the FDLR (the Democratic Forces for
the Liberation of Rwanda) an armed group operating inside the
DRC consisting of the remnants of the former Armed Forces of
Rwanda and the Interahamwe militias, who in large measure
carried out the genocide. Subsequent to the Summit in Addis
Ababa, the January Goma Peace Conference, held in the DRC,
resulted in a clear road-map for disarmament of other
indigenous militias. Additionally, Rwanda has become an
important player in peacekeeping operations in Darfur. Four
battalions of Rwandan peace-keepers now serve there; we have
trained twelve battalions for those operations (with the
thirteenth now undergoing training); the U.S. has provided
much of the airlift for these Darfur deployments.

4. (SBU) The Schedule in Rwanda is designed to address
issues of mutual concern. The visit to the Genocide Memorial
will offer the chance to pay homage to those Rwandans who
fell in the 1994 genocide. The meeting with President Kagame
provides an excellent opportunity to commend Rwanda's efforts
to further peace in eastern Congo, and express U.S. support
for Rwanda's efforts at economic development. The dedication
of the new U.S. embassy will showcase our longterm commitment
to Rwanda. With over USD 120 million in PEPFAR funds in
FY08, the PEPFAR event will showcase our superb cooperation
on HIV/AIDS. The event with Rwanda Defense Force
peace-keeping troops who have served in Darfur highlights our
mutual goal of protecting the people of Darfur so they can
live in peace and security.

5. (SBU) Regional Security: On November 9, the DRC and
Rwanda signed an agreement in Nairobi on a common approach to
end the threat to peace and stability in both countries and
the Great Lakes region posed by the FDLR, which continues to
operate in the North and South Kivu provinces of eastern DRC.
The Secretary's December hosting of the Heads of State
Q The Secretary's December hosting of the Heads of State
Summit greatly reinforced this agreement. Tensions between
the DRC and the GOR have also centered on renegade Congolese
Rwandaphone General Laurent Nkunda who has not cooperated
with the DRC in reintegrating his militia forces into the
Congo's army. The January Goma conference, attended by all
the ethnic groups and many of the armed militias, has created
a clear avenue toward a peaceful future in the Kivus.
Elsewhere, Uganda and Rwanda enjoy the most positive
relations in years, and the simmering internal political
problems in Burundi show signs of improvement. Kenya's
post-election turmoil has highlighted Rwanda's dependence
upon long transport corridors from Indian Ocean ports; Rwanda
briefly imposed fuel rationing when tanker trucks from
Mombasa were delayed by the violence.

6. (SBU) AU/UN Mission in Darfur: The Rwandan Defense
Forces (RDF), one of the most competent and professional
militaries in sub-Saharan Africa, currently has four
battalions deployed in Darfur, attached to the African
Union Mission/United Nations Hybrid Operation (UNAMID).
The USG has been providing logistical and training

support for the Rwandan contribution to peacekeeping
efforts in Sudan since initial deployment in August
2004. The U.S. Air Force and US-funded contract
airlines have provided transport for nearly all troop
deployments. American contractors under the ACOTA
program (Rwanda became a full ACOTA partner in June,
2006) have conducted training for twelve battalions
in preparation for the Darfur deployments -- a
thirteen is now being trained.

7. (SBU) Global Health: Rwanda is one of 15 "focus
countries" under the PEPFAR program. The national HIV
prevalence rate is approximately 3.0 percent (3.6 percent
for women, 2.3 percent for men). A 2005 survey suggests
that women are contracting HIV/AIDS at a younger age than
men, and that for both sexes prevalence in urban areas is
approximately three times higher than in rural areas. By
the middle of FY 2008, the PEPFAR program in Rwanda will
provide at least 50,000 persons with anti-retroviral
treatment (ART), prevent 158,000 new HIV infections, and
provide care and support to 250,000 persons affected by
HIV/AIDS, including orphans and vulnerable children.
FY07 PEPFAR funding for Rwanda was approximately USD
103 million. FY08 levels are expected to be nearly USD
123 million. In June 2007, Rwanda hosted the yearly
PEPFAR conference and garnered high praise for its
energy and initiative in its HIV/AIDS programming.

8. (SBU) In addition, Rwanda is a phase II country for
the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI). This program
works to dramatically reduce the incidence of malaria
through new treatments, indoor residual spraying,
home-based management of fever in children and
increased bed-net use. PMI funding for the first year
of the program was $20 million and we anticipate $17
million in FY08. The Mission also implements successful
programs in child survival, maternal and child health,
reproductive health and family planning. These programs
have annual budgets of approximately $8 to $10

9. (SBU) Domestic Political Issues: In 2003, President
Kagame was elected to a seven-year term with 95 percent
of the vote; members of the Chamber of Deputies were
elected to five year terms in the same year (indirect
Senate elections were also held). The Presidential and
Deputies elections were peaceful, but marred by serious
irregularities. The next legislative elections will be
held this September, with presidential elections
following in 2010. Although constitutional and
regulatory restrictions on political party operations
remain in place, and use of broadly-worded criminal
statutes sanctioning "divisionism" and "genocide
ideology" concern the human rights community, a June 1
law allows parties to organize down to the lowest
administrative level. As a result, Rwanda's political
parties report renewed interest among average Rwandans
in politics. Other human rights concerns include
lingering restrictions on a free press, a judicial
system still hampered by capacity limitations, and a
developing civil society that must satisfy extensive
licensing requirements. Pending legislation appears
to loosen many restrictions on civil society, and to a
lesser degree on the press; their final form will be
determined in the course of the next several months.

10. (SBU) Press Freedom: Press freedom remains the
subject of much debate and action in Rwanda. While
senior GOR officials recognize the importance of a
free, effective free press to the development of
Rwanda's democracy and to international perceptions
of the country, there have been incidents of
harassment, occasional run-ins with the police
and other government authorities, and jailing and
Qand other government authorities, and jailing and
prosecution of several journalists. Press freedom
diminished in 2007, although independent newspapers
regularly publish articles critical of senior
government officials and institutions and the
ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front without government
sanction (two papers temporarily suspended
publication to protest what they considered to be
harsh government criticism). Local journalists, who
do admit to self-censoring on occasion, often
confess that their over-riding concern is the
day-to-day economic obstacles to making journalism

11. (SBU) Justice and the Genocide: Over 800,000
suspected "genocidaires" (those who participated in the
1994 genocide) are the subject of judicial inquiry by the
"gacaca courts," a traditional system modernized and
expanded by the GOR. Over 90 percent of the pending

cases had been adjudicated by approximately 3000 gacaca
courts by the end of 2007. The gacaca service is
optimistic it can finish all cases including appeals by
the end of 2008. The GOR decreed last summer that gacaca
prisoners would serve their suspended and community
service sentences first, and return to prison at
a later date. Since then, the large prison population
has diminished, alleviating crowded and unsustainable
conditions, as the government began releasing prisoners
previously convicted. While a small number of the most
serious genocide offenders will continue to be judged by
the regular courts, the gacaca courts represent the
principal attempt by the GOR to achieve justice and
reconciliation -- a difficult policy balance --
given Rwanda's history of ethnic animosities.

12. (SBU) Democracy and Governance Programs: USG
programs focus on local government and reconciliation.
We are supporting decentralized governance
through an innovative program in which health
and governance objectives combine to ensure local
management and delivery of high quality health services.
The program is intended to demonstrate ability for local
governments to manage and fund public services. This program
is complemented by support for capacity building programs for
local civil society organizations. We also support a series
smaller projects related to reconciliation, such as
activities in land management and land policy and
legislation, and youth radio. We also fund youth radio for
peace and reconciliation through a Great Lakes regional

13. (SBU) Economic Development: Rwanda's main
development challenges remain its small economy, relative
isolation, poor infrastructure, the high cost of energy,
and poorly developed human capital. Rwanda's economy
remains largely dependent upon foreign aid, while its
population remains overwhelmingly rural with over 85
percent of families earning a living through subsistence
agriculture and 56.9 percent of households living below
the poverty line of 250 Rwandan francs a day (about
$0.45). However, Rwanda has achieved an average GDP
growth rate of 6 percent over the past six years and
increased the total value of exports each year. The
government has established important policy benchmarks
for overhauling the economy, and seeks to establish
Rwanda as a regional crossroads bridging the
Francophone west and Anglophone east. It has achieved
major improvements in the areas of tax collection,
banking, trade agreements, anti-corruption, and fiscal
policy. It has improved road conditions throughout
the country, and maintained a low corruption rate
relative to neighboring countries.

14. (SBU) Specialty Coffee: In 2001, the country
produced only low-grade commercial quality beans for
export despite coffee being the traditional number
one export earner. Over the past six years, the USG
has invested an estimated USD 11 million in promoting
and developing the Rwandan coffee industry, building
and rehabilitating coffee washing station, training
farmers and "cuppers" (coffee tasters), organizing
cooperatives, encouraging banks to lend to Rwandan
investors to build coffee washing stations, and
improving rural infrastructure. Today, Rwandan coffee
has become known as one of the "best of the best"
coffees in the world. Rwanda exported 2,600 tons of
specialty coffee in 2007. While still a small
proportion of overall coffee exports, these
crops earn top prices for the coffee growers, and
have resulted in better health care, education, and
housing in coffee farming communities. In 2006,
Starbucks launched a promotional campaign featuring
QStarbucks launched a promotional campaign featuring
the best of Rwandan coffee, a program seen by an
estimated 19 million customers in over 5,000
Starbucks retail stores throughout the U.S.
Starbucks and Costco today purchase sizeable amounts
of Rwandan specialty coffee.

15. (SBU) Poverty Reduction: The government has made
efforts, with measurable results, to reduce poverty and
to improve access to health care and education,
despite its severely limited resources. Under its
national policy of universal primary education, the GOR
provides free primary education to all children. A
joint GOR-donor task force is focusing on improvement
of girls' education. The GOR is also attempting to
improve access to health care through greater
decentralization. In addition, it has
implemented plans for the prevention, protection,
and reintegration of street children (currently

7,000 out of 4.2 million children), including
vocational training to promote self-reliance
through development of income-generating skills.
Rwanda completed its Economic Development and Poverty
Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) at the end of 2007 with the
help of the donor community. Rwanda had completed the
Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) debt relief
initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative
by the end of 2006. Completion of these two debt
initiatives significantly reduced its overall debt,
freeing significant funds for social programs.
Anticipated GDP growth for the immediate future should
continue at 5-6 percent, while inflation has risen
slightly given high energy costs and large donor
inflows. Rwanda does face challenges to food security
from cyclic rainfall shortages.

16. (SBU) Millennium Challenge Corporation Country
Threshold Program: Rwanda was selected in 2006 for the
Threshold program. The GOR with assistance from the
Mission is putting the finishing touches on a
Threshold Country Plan intended to improve its scores
on three MCC Ruling Justly indicators: civil liberties,
political rights and voice and accountability. The
Threshold program will focus on three main components:
strengthening the judicial sector, aiding civic
participation, and promoting civil rights and
civil liberties


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