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Regional Leaders No-Show At Rwanda Celebrations

Rwanda has celebrated Liberation Day without a single head of state from a neighbouring country being present at the ceremony, reports the BBC’s Great Lakes service.

The day marks the coming to power of Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), overthrowing the regime responsible for the 1994 genocide.

The RPF has remained in power for the past 25 years.

Regional leaders have in the past come to mark the end of the genocide. Uganda – as a key regional backer of the RPF – has a particular interest in the day.

Some are seeing the absence of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at Thursday’s ceremony as a sign of regional diplomatic tensions.

Six heads of state – from Namibia, Togo, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Botswana and Zimbabwe – were there, along with the vice-president of Nigeria.

Some opposition parties have objected to the way Liberation Day has in recent years become more prominent in the Rwandan calendar and now overshadows independence day – 1 July. They see it as promoting President Paul Kagame and the RPF at the expense of Rwandan history.

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