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Cablegate: Senator Nelson Visits Rwanda

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #0461 1921245
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101245Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5440
INFO RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 0347
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 1162
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1931
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0482
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0262
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1259
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0523

UNCLAS KIGALI 000461

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP PGOV PREL RW
SUBJECT: SENATOR NELSON VISITS RWANDA

1. (SBU) Summary. Senator Bill Nelson (D - FL) visited
Rwanda July 4-6, meeting separately with President Kagame and
National Security Service General Secretary Emmanuel Ndahiro,
discussing Rwanda's regeneration after the 1994 genocide and
intelligence matters, respectively. He also lunched with
Senate leadership, visited the Gisozi genocide memorial, and
dined privately with Cabinet Affairs Minister Charles
Murigande. At the conclusion of his trip, he addressed the
local press corps with President Kagame, applauding Rwanda's
ongoing efforts to develop its people and promote national
unity. End summary.

2. (SBU) Senator Nelson, accompanied by several aides and
his wife Grace Nelson, visited Rwanda on the July 4th
weekend. After a welcoming July 4th dinner with Ambassador
Arietti and members of the country team, Senator Nelson began
his July 5th appointments with briefings at the embassy and a
meeting with National Security Service chief Emmanuel Ndahiro
on intelligence matters. Separately, his wife toured Gahaya
Links, a basket-weaving cooperative that employs rural women,
including many genocide survivors, and which markets its
products to Macys and other U.S. retailers. A lunch with
Rwandan Senate leadership followed at the Milles Collines,
the hotel on which the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda was based.


3. (SBU) At the lunch, the senators discussed the impact of
the 1994 genocide on Rwandan society and politics, and the
upcoming September Parliamentary elections for the Chamber of
Deputies. The four senators, representing Rwanda's two major
ethnic groups (Hutu and Tutsi) and three of its nine
political parties, also discussed with Senator Nelson and his
staff their fundraising mechanisms, constituent services, and
political platforms. Two of the senators also told harrowing
stories of their narrow survival in Kigali during the
genocide. Following the lunch, Senator Nelson and staff
visited the Gisozi genocide memorial, burial ground for over
258,000 Rwandans killed in Kigali in 1994.

4. (SBU) As the highlight of his visit, Senator Nelson and
staff, paid a call on President Paul Kagame. Mrs. Nelson
paid a simultaneous call on Mrs. Kagame. Nelson began by
commending what he termed Kagame's "remarkable compassion" at
the end of the 1994 genocide, opting for efforts to rebuild
the nation and strive for national unity. Nelson also
saluted Rwanda's great progress in combating HIV/AIDS, and
pledged continuing USG efforts to assist with HIV/AIDs and
anti-malaria efforts.

5. (SBU) In unusually extended and personal terms,
President Kagame replied that neither he nor any of the other
founding members of the RPA/RPF could possibly have imagined
that they would take power "in a ruined nation with a million
people dead." He and his colleagues, armed and civilian,
had long planned the sort of society they wished to build,
with peace, security and reconciliation as fundamental
principles. As refugees, long denied a place in their own
nation, said the president, "we knew what injustice meant."
Yet everything, he said, became so much more difficult as a
result of the war, death and destruction of 1994. With the
start of a brutal insurgency immediately after the genocide,
the president added, "our burdens increased." However, he
said, "we stayed on our feet, kept our balance," and began to
rebuild the nation.

6. (SBU) In a joint press appearance at the conclusion of
their meeting, Senator Nelson applauded Rwanda's ongoing
efforts to develop its people and promote national unity.
He then proceeded to a private dinner with Cabinet Affairs
Minister Charles Murigande. Senator and Mrs. Nelson and
staff departed Kigali on Sunday morning, July 6.

7. (SBU) Senator Nelson did not clear this message.
ARIETTI

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