To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made directly or through the Commonwealth to the Government of Rwanda about the treatment of the political opposition there; and whether they will encourage the Government of Rwanda to fulfil their international obligations by holding free and fair elections. [HL3108]
In our dialogue with the Government of Rwanda, we have continuously reiterated to them the importance of holding credible elections this year. Most recently, I raised this with Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo. I underlined the importance of improving political space for the opposition and media.
In addition, our High Commissioner in Kigali has discussed the registration and operation of new political parties and issues surrounding political space with the relevant Ministers in the Rwandan Government. We have lobbied for both an EU and a Commonwealth election monitoring mission to be deployed to the elections this year, and welcome the Commonwealth's decision to send a mission. Furthermore, we have encouraged the implementation of the recommendations of the EU monitoring mission report on the 2008 elections. We also continue to engage with the Rwandan National Election Commission (NEC) over the practicalities of the forthcoming August 2010 presidential elections. Along with other donors, the UK has provided budget support for the NEC, including for the elections budget for 2010.
We remain in regular contact with political parties in Rwanda, including opposition parties currently seeking registration.
We have received reports of grenade attacks in central Kigali on 19 February and 4 March. According to the Rwandan National Police, total casualties were two killed and 49 injured. There have been no claims of responsibility and the identity of those responsible has yet to be established. Security has been heightened in Kigali. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice has been amended and we continue to monitor the situation closely.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they are giving to the independent electoral commission in Rwanda; what is their assessment of the prospects of a free, fair and democratic presidential election in Rwanda this year; which organisations from the United Kingdom have been invited to monitor elections in Rwanda; and whether they will assist in the recruitment of election observers. [HL3159]
The UK is working closely with the Rwandan National Electoral Commission (NEC) to monitor preparations for the 2010 presidential elections. We have encouraged the NEC to implement the recommendations of the 2003 and 2008 EU election observation missions, to ensure that the 2010 elections comply with international norms. The Department for International Development is providing the NEC with £3 million assistance in support of its strategic plan for 2008-12. The Government of Rwanda have invited international election observers, including from the Commonwealth, the EU and the African Union. During his visit to Rwanda in January 2010, the Commonwealth Secretary-General indicated that the Commonwealth plan to send a monitoring team.
I raised reconciliation issues with the Rwandan Foreign Minister during her recent visit to London. We are supportive of the work of the Rwandan Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission in returning to Rwanda former combatants from the eastern Congo region. We also remain supportive of the role of the UN High Commission for Refugees in returning to Rwanda civilian refugees in the eastern Congo. The aim of both of these programmes is the reintegration of these groups into Rwandan society. We further continue to support the efforts of the UN force in the Congo (MONUC) in persuading Rwandan Hutu rebels in the Congo to disarm, demobilise and repatriate to Rwanda in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1804.