Rwanda to open five new embassies

By Athan Tashobya* download (3)The Government has announced plans to open five new embassies to strengthen its bilateral relations with various countries. According to the Minister for  Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, the new embassies will be opened in Angola, Zambia, Congo-Brazzaville, Abu Dhabi, and Israel. Speaking yesterday as she appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget and Patrimony to discuss the ministry’s budget framework for the next financial year, Mushikiwabo said the move aims at  promoting Rwanda’s continental and worldwide relations and operations. According to the budget framework, the ministry plans to spend Rwf3.2 billion from its budgetary allocation towards the opening of these embassies. “We plan to expand to the other parts of the world and we have also made it policy to increase our presence on the African continent. Southern Africa is an area where we feel we need more presence, not only for connecting with the countries, but also for investments,” Mushikiwabo told The New Times in a subsequent interview. According to the minister, Rwanda has already received agreements from the two southern African governments of Luanda-Angola and Lusaka-Zambia. Mushikiwabo further stated that they are in the process of  procuring offices and carrying out discussions with respective ministries of foreign affairs to ensure that the operations get started. “Opening up an embassy in Israel and Congo Brazzaville,  for the central African area is also in the pipeline. I expect these embassies to be operational in the next two months,” Mushikiwabo added. Only two embassies have been serving all the southern African countries. These are;  Pretoria, South Africa and the one in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Financial constraints Much as the ministry allocated Rwf3.2 billion towards opening of the new missions, the ministry has a general financial gap of about 2.7 billion to ensure all embassies, including the new ones to be created, are facilitated for the coming financial year. Mushikiwabo said they need atleast Rwf19.2 billion to facilitate all diplomatic missions, but the Ministry for Finance, according to the budget framework, allocated these activities only Rwf16.3 billion. However, Mushikiwabo told the Parliamentary Committee that they are in discussions with the Ministry for Finance to ensure that the costs for the opening of the new embassies are met and the budget shortfalls do not affect their plans to expand presence in different countries. Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, the committee chairperson said she hopes the Foreign Affairs Ministry would get the required funds to facilitate their budget, saying that the ministry serves the interests of the country at the international level. MP Devota Uwamariya, who described Minaffet as “the heart of the nation” in as far diplomacy is concerned, also suggested that should need arise, the finance ministry could use any reserve funds  they may have to facilitate any urgent projects for the ministry. *Source newtimes]]>

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