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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Codel Meeks

VZCZCXRO1088
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHLGB #0525/01 2380609
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260609Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6252
INFO RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 0307
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0001
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0034

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KIGALI 000525

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR H: PLEASE PASS TO CODEL MEEKS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAID KDEM PGOV PREL RW
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR CODEL MEEKS

Welcome and Introduction
------------------------
1. (SBU) Mission warmly welcomes CODEL Meeks to Rwanda. The
U.S. Government partners closely with Rwanda on a wide
range of bilateral, regional and global issues such as
fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria, expanding economic development
and assisting Rwanda's democratic structures. Rwandans
deeply appreciate that the United States is the largest
bilateral aid donor operating in Rwanda, with over $236
million in development and military assistance in FY08 and an
estimated $214 million in FY09. During your stay, you will
have the opportunity to speak with senior Rwandans on key
issues related to economic development, visit an innovative
health program site, and visit the principal genocide
memorial.

2. (SBU) Although Rwanda is a stable country, it is still
struggling to overcome the legacy of the 1994 genocide when
Rwandans killed an estimated one million of their fellow
citizens and gravely damaged the nation's infrastructure,
economy and society. Many measures of social progress fell
precipitously. This past April, the Government of Rwanda
(GOR) commemorated the 15th anniversary of the tragedy.
Since the genocide ended, the economy has largely recovered
and
the Government of Rwanda (GOR) has adopted an ambitious set
of development goals, seeking to become the "Singapore of
Africa." The GOR remains deeply committed to educating its
people and expanding nationwide access to health care with
the help of the USG's PEPFAR and President's Malaria
Initiative (PMI) programs. It seeks to forge national unity
through the reconciliation of Rwanda's ethnic groups. It has
made great strides in restoring security and establishing
the underpinnings for a developing democracy. Yet much
remains to be done if Rwanda is to meet the aspirations of
its
overwhelmingly young and growing population. We are working
with the Government of Rwanda (GOR) to implement a
three-year, $25 million Millennium Challenge Corporation
(MCC) Threshold Country Plan, as a potential prelude to a
full
MCC compact of development assistance. End introduction.


Economic Development and US Investment
--------------------------------------
3. (SBU) Economic Development: Fifteen years after the
genocide, daunting development challenges remain. The
Rwandan
economy is small and relatively isolated. There is poor
infrastructure and a lack of a trained workforce. The
economy
remains largely dependent upon foreign aid (roughly half of
its budget comes from donors). Eighty-five percent of
families earn their living through subsistence agriculture
and a majority of households live below the poverty line of
250 Rwandan francs a day (about $0.45). The recent world-wide
economic downturn has begun to affect Rwandan exports,
reduce remittances, and impact tourist revenues. The GOR is
working with the IMF and the donor community to proactively
address the financial and economic impact of the crisis.

4. (SBU) Nonetheless, Rwanda achieved an average GDP growth
rate of 6 percent over the past six years. In 2008, the
GDP grew 11.2 percent to approximately $4 billion, although
the growth rate is projected to slow to 5.3% for 2009.
Inflation climbed to over 20 percent last year but in recent
months has dropped to approximately 10 percent.
Coffee, tea and minerals dominate the export sector,
representing $200 million, or 70 percent of total exports
in 2008. Tourism earned an additional $243 million in
foreign exchange during the year. Additionally, the GOR
Qforeign exchange during the year. Additionally, the GOR
seeks to establish Rwanda as a regional economic hub,
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. The government has worked hard to improve
infrastructure throughout the country and maintains a low
corruption rate relative to neighboring countries.

5. (SBU) U.S. Investment: In February 2008, President Bush
and President Kagame signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty
aimed at encouraging investment and trade between the United
States and Rwanda. In March 2009, American energy
company Contour Global signed a $325 million project with the
GOR to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu to provide
100MW of electricity to the national grid. This is the
largest foreign private-sector investment in Rwanda's

KIGALI 00000525 002 OF 004


history and promises to significantly improve the
availability and cost of electricity. Other American
investments include interest in tea, coffee, and mining,
including the recent purchase of the Karongi Tea Estate by
a U.S. investment group for approximately USD 15 million
(making it the second US-owned tea estate in Rwanda). The
New York-based Christies Real Estate development firm is in
the final stages of negotiating a $250 million
build-operate-transfer agreement with the government and the
National University of Rwanda.

6. (SBU) Poverty Reduction: The GOR has made strong efforts,
with measurable results, to reduce poverty, despite its
severely limited resources. It has focused considerable
resources and attention on the agricultural sector, improving
farm production and income, and greatly enhanced the quality
of farm-to-market roads and the distribution of health
centers and schools in rural areas. It has also implemented
plans for the prevention, protection, and reintegration
of the 7,000 street children in the country (out of 4.8
million children). These include vocational training to
promote self-reliance through development of
income-generating skills. Rwanda completed the Highly
Indebted Poor
Country (HIPC) debt relief initiative and the Multilateral
Debt Relief Initiative in 2006. Completion of these two debt
initiatives significantly reduced its overall debt, freeing
significant funds for social programs. Rwanda continues to
face challenges to food security from cyclic rainfall
shortages.

7. (SBU) Coffee: U.S. support for coffee production has
transformed the sector. Over the past eight years, the USG
has invested an estimated $12 million in promoting and
developing the Rwandan coffee industry, building and
rehabilitating coffee washing stations, 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 4200
tons of specialty coffee in 2008. In July, Starbucks opened
a Farmers Support Center in Rwanda, the first such center
in Africa.


Health
------
8. (SBU) Global Health: Rwanda is one of 15 "focus
countries" under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief
(PEPFAR). 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. Through PEPFAR and Global Fund
support, Rwanda has increased the number of facilities
offering services for prevention of mother-to-child
transmission
from 53 to 345, and voluntary counseling and testing from 44
to 381. Rwanda has achieved 70 percent coverage of those
in need of anti-retroviral treatment. This is one of the
highest rates in sub-Saharan Africa, and can be directly
linked to the significant geographic expansion of HIV/AIDS
services. Rwanda has also completed a national roll-out
of performance-based financing as an incentive for improved
health care delivery, and built the capacity of local
organizations to manage and implement HIV/AIDS programs.
FY09 PEPFAR funding for Rwanda is nearly $123 million. FY10
funding is expected to be at similar levels. The Rwanda
Qfunding is expected to be at similar levels. The Rwanda
Defense Force (RDF) has been a leader in HIV/AIDS programs
for military forces in Africa, and has several innovative
programs underway to protect its men and women.

9. (SBU) Malaria: In addition, Rwanda is a President's
Malaria Initiative (PMI) country. In 2006, the number of
uncomplicated malaria cases treated in public sector health
facilities was 1.3 million. By mid-FY08, it decreased to
900,000 cases. Given this reduced incidence, malaria has now
dropped down to third place as the leading cause of
morbidity and mortality among children under five in Rwanda.
Much of this success is attributed to the use of
indoor-residual spraying and insecticide-treated bed nets
funded by USAID. Currently, a spraying campaign is under
way that will treat 275,000 houses or more than 1.3 million
people (more than 10 percent of the population). PMI
funding in FY08 was $17 million; FY09 funding is similar at

KIGALI 00000525 003 OF 004


$16.3 million. The Mission also implements
successful programs in child survival, maternal and child
health, reproductive health and family planning. In FY09,
$15.5 million is allocated for these programs.


Democracy and Governance Assistance
-----------------------------------
10. (SBU) Millennium Challenge Corporation Country Threshold
Program: Rwanda was selected in 2006 for the
Threshold program. The GOR Country Plan was approved by the
MCC Investment Committee in July 2008; the final
agreement was signed in October 2008. USAID recently
initiated four projects (supporting the police,
strengthening the media, aiding civic participation, and
developing the justice sector) to implement the three-year,
$25 million Threshold Country Program. The Program is
intended to improve Rwanda's scores on three MCC Ruling
Justly indicators: civil liberties, political rights and
voice and accountability.

11. (SBU) Democracy and Governance Programs: In addition to
the Threshold program, other USG programs focus on local
government and reconciliation. We are supporting
decentralized governance through an innovative program to
achieve health and governance objectives by acting to improve
local government's capacity to manage funds and
deliver high quality health services. This program is
complemented by capacity-building programs for local civil
society organizations. On rule of law issues, we are helping
the Ministry of Justice and other government
officials to improve the quality of draft legislation. We
also support provision of legal aid services to the poor
and other vulnerable groups, helping to ensure equitable
access to justice. We have funded youth radio for peace
and reconciliation through a Great Lakes regional initiative
that has enabled young people to take an active role
contributing to peace and reconciliation in their
communities. A new project implemented by the National
Democratic Institute is working with political parties to
build their capacity for the 2010 elections.


Domestic Issues
---------------
12. (SBU) Political Issues: In 2003, President Kagame was
elected to a seven-year term with 95 percent of the vote.
He is widely expected to compete for and win one more term in
2010. In September 2008, Rwanda held parliamentary
(Chamber of Deputies -- 80 members) elections, with the
ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front and its six coalition
partners winning 79 percent of the vote. Additionally,
Rwanda has the highest percentage of women parliamentarians
(55 percent) in the world. The elections were peaceful and
orderly, despite irregularities. Although some
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 2007
law liberalized political party operations. Other human
rights concerns include restrictions on a free press, a
judicial system still hampered by capacity limitations, and
heavy regulation of civil society organizations.
Recently-adopted legislation on the press may have a mixed
effect on media freedom; parliament is also considering
legislation on the activities of religious groups as well as
local and international NGOs.

13. (SBU) Justice and the Genocide: Over one million
suspected "genocidaires" (those who participated in the
1994 genocide) are the subject of judicial inquiry by the
"gacaca courts," a traditional system modernized and
Q"gacaca courts," a traditional system modernized and
expanded by the GOR. The approximately 3000 gacaca courts
have adjudicated roughly 90 percent of the pending cases,
and the gacaca service hopes to finish all cases including
appeals by early 2010. The GOR decreed in 2007 that gacaca
prisoners would serve their suspended and community service
sentences first, and return to prison at a later date.
Since this decision, the formerly large prison population has
diminished, alleviating crowded and unsustainable
conditions. While a small number of the most serious
genocide offenders, including the leadership and organizers,
are tried at the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda
(ICTR) and will continue to face judgment by regular
courts, the gacaca courts represent the GOR's principal
attempt to deal with overwhelming numbers of alleged
perpetrators as well as to achieve justice and
reconciliation--a difficult balance, given Rwanda's history

KIGALI 00000525 004 OF 004


of internal divisions. It will likely take years to assess
the impact of the gacaca trials on national reconciliation.
It is clear, however, that not all of those who were
convicted of crimes are repentant. Addressing lingering
animosity and
resentment will take several generations.


Regional Issues
---------------
14. (SBU) Relations with Neighbors: Relations between Rwanda
and the DRC are better now than at any time in the
recent past, with both sides collaborating to combat the
sources of regional instability. In August, the two heads
of state held their first summit in years, both symbolizing
and reinforcing this trend. The Rwandan and Congolese
energy ministers followed up the summit with a high-level
meeting to discuss joint exploitation of methane gas
reserves in Lake Kivu, which the two countries share. And in
early 2009, Rwanda and the Congo conducted a joint
military campaign that helped build confidence between their
governments and respective populations, and achieved
some successes against the Democratic Forces for the
Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group and descendant
of the former, genocidaire Rwandan government. During the
campaign, Rwandan and Congolese troops killed or captured
over 750 FDLR fighters, many of whom returned voluntarily to
Rwanda under a demobilization/reintegration program.
The FDLR, however, remains a threat and has regained some of
the territory it ceded during the joint operation. The
two governments continue their intensive bilateral
discussions under what is referred to as the "Four Plus
Four" rubric. The USG-facilitated Tripartite-Plus Joint
Commission, which met most recently in December 2008 in
Kigali, continues to provide a venue for further discussions
on regional security cooperation; the next
meeting will be in Lubumbashi, DRC. Elsewhere in the region,
Uganda and Rwanda enjoy their most positive
relations in years, and the simmering internal political
problems in Burundi show signs of improvement.

15. (SBU) Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur: The highly
competent RDF now ranks as the sixth-largest troop
contributor to UN peacekeeping operations worldwide. An
experienced RDF officer recently assumed command of the
United Nations African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), where the
RDF currently has four battalions (3200 troops).
Another 254 RDF troops are in Khartoum under the UN Mission
in Sudan (UNMIS). The USG has provided logistical and
training support for Rwandan peacekeeping efforts in Sudan
since 2004. American contractors under the Africa
Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) program
(Rwanda became a full ACOTA partner in June 2006) have
trained nearly twenty battalions in preparation for the
Darfur deployments. We provided $30 million in 2008 in new
equipment for these battalions, and helped establish a
peacekeeping simulation center. The USG has airlifted
Rwandan equipment and personnel to Darfur many times. The
RDF has been quite critical at times of the U.N.
bureaucracy, particularly on the subject of equipment
transport to Darfur.

MINIMIZE CONSIDERED

SYMINGTON

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