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Cablegate: Rwanda Joins Commonwealth

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #0803 3350815
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010815Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6466
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS KIGALI 000803

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EINV RW
SUBJECT: RWANDA JOINS COMMONWEALTH

1. (U) Summary: On November 28th, Commonwealth heads of
government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago decided to admit
Rwanda as their group's newest member. Although concrete
benefits to membership appear modest, Rwandan officials
anticipate expanded business and trade opportunities and
welcome the opportunity to join another regional grouping
that embraces globalization, trade and economic integration.
END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Rwandan Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali told the
local press November 29th that Rwanda is "looking forward to
working with our new partner states to strengthen economic,
trade, cultural and political ties" and affirmed Rwanda's
commitment to contribute to the group's aspirations including
promoting peace and prosperity in the region. Rwanda's
formally launched its bid to join the Commonwealth in 2007,
supported by the UK, Australia, Canada, India, South Africa,
as well as its East African neighbors Kenya, Tanzania and
Uganda.

3. (SBU) The Commonwealth is a club of 54 nations with a
population of more than two billion and $2.8 trillion in
annual trade. Rwanda is only the second country, after
Mozambique, to join the organization without having a British
colonial past or constitutional link to Britain. In addition
to potential trade, business linkages and economic benefits,
UK poloff explained to us that by joining the Commonwealth,
Rwanda could more easily access technical assistance programs
offered by Commonwealth professional associations and NGOs.
A variety of scholarship programs benefiting Commonwealth
members would also become available, the poloff added.

4. (U) Comment: Rwanda's successful bid to join the
Commonwealth is consistent with its ambition to become a
regional trade hub, broaden its economic base through
regional integration and attract new investment by building
partnerships with larger trading blocks. Senior Rwandan
leaders have also pointed out that joining the Commonwealth
is not incompatible with continued membership in
Francophonie, the association of French-speaking countries,
and that they intend to remain part of that grouping as well.
End Comment.
SYMINGTON

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