Will the Rwanda diplomatic spat with the DRC not cast a pall over CHOGM?
Rwanda is on the verge of hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) slated for the week of June 23, despite constant suspicions of intervention by its neighbor.
While preparations for the summit continue apace, the current diplomatic spat with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) casts a pall over the event, requiring government officials to dismiss charges that Kigali is to blame for fresh bloodshed.
Regional diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions seem to be failing, as the DRC made new charges on Wednesday that Kigali had sent 500 Special Forces to bolster M23 rebels who have lately restarted operations in the DRC’s eastern province. Kigali has both denied and rejected the charges.
Kigali, which has insisted on using regional institutions to address the dispute, also confronts the problem of guaranteeing the success of the Chogm, to which over 20 Heads of State have already confirmed their attendance.
In a congratulatory statement to Queen Elizabeth II, Rwandan President Paul Kagame reiterated the country’s willingness to host the conference on June 5.
“As Rwanda prepares to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, we look forward to deepening friendship and collaboration within the Commonwealth family.” President Kagame sent a tweet.
RwandAir, Rwanda’s official airline, scheduled more flights between Kigali and London from June 13 to July 3, ahead of Chogm.
Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Johnston Busingye, spoke with Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland at a pre-Chogm discussion on ‘Boosting Inclusive and Sustainable Trade’ throughout the Commonwealth on Tuesday in London.
“Rwanda is dedicated to regional peace, stability, and economic growth, and will continue to engage bilaterally and via existing regional efforts to guarantee that peace, development, and the enhancement of residents’ lives prevail…” Busingye explained.
But Kigali is also swimming rough seas, as its recent migrant pact with the United Kingdom is hanging by a thread, despite efforts by both governments to proceed with the first group of asylum-seekers under the plan, which is scheduled to arrive in Kigali on June 14th.
This is due to the collaboration not only facing various legal challenges from asylum seekers and campaigners, but also the current UK government under the Conservative Party headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“…although we are aware that efforts will be made to stymie the process and postpone removals, I will not be discouraged and will remain completely dedicated to achieving what the British people expects.” Priti Patel, the UK’s Home Secretary, said in a statement made on June 1, 2022, that the first charted aircraft would take off on June 14, 2022.
Her declaration has sparked further outcry, with campaigners stating that some asylum seekers have gone on hunger strike and others have vowed to commit suicide as a result of her revelation. However, the agreement will only be implemented if the UK courts approve it. So far, UK immigration attorneys believe the first flight will not take off as planned.
A combination of protesters, lawyers, and a trade union — the Public and Commercial Services Union — representing the bulk of Border Force workers has sought an emergency High Court injunction to halt all flights until the court determines on the policy’s constitutionality.
“The statute authorizing the government to do this does not seem to go into effect until June 28th, 2022…” Last week, Steven Galliver-Andrew, a lawyer specializing in immigration law, told the BBC.
Meanwhile, there is a chance that if the UK government changes during the next two years, the agreement may be ruled null and invalid since the policy, popular in the present administration, does not have the support of the opposition.
While Mr Johnson barely survived a confidence vote in his leadership on June 6 with 63 votes after 148 MPs attempted to depose him, commentators think the PM is not yet out of the woods.
For one thing, even though Johnson will not face another formal confidence vote for a year, this might be overturned by the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers who drove then-Prime Minister Theresa May to quit a few months after winning the confidence vote.
The Times of the UK asked the prime minister in an editorial on Wednesday, June 8, to reestablish the Conservative Party’s reputation for efficient administration.
“He (Johnson) must put a stop to the continual stream of ill-considered policy pronouncements that spew from the Downing Street grid, meant to seize the daily news narrative but ultimately break apart when scrutinized.”
Too many of these pronouncements seem to be intended to foment discord where none exists rather than to deliver practical answers to actual issues in the face of enormous difficulties. All this accomplishes is increase skepticism about the political process.”