Great article describing the experience of a student who studied abroad in Kigali, Rwanda for a few weeks last summer.

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Rwanda’s Commonwealth Bid

November 26, 2009

Rwanda’s application to join the Commonwealth will be decided on at the end of this week.  It has been almost a year since the country applied to join the international grouping dominated by ex- British colonies in January 2008.  And there seems to be debate on how smoothly the vote to include Rwanda at the summit in Trinidad and Tobago will proceed.

In an article in Rwanda’s The New Times they report that ‘reliable sources say that all member states unanimously support Rwanda joining the group mainly composed of former British colonies.’

Meanwhile, AllAfrica.com’s John Allen blogs that New Delhi-based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) writes, “Rwanda does not satisfy the test of Commonwealth values.  There are considerable doubts about the commitment of the current regime to human rights and democracy. It has not hesitated to use violence at home or abroad when it has suited it.”

Despite the issue of human rights violations, Canada is backing the admittance of Rwanda.  A spokesperson for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department told AFP, “Canada would welcome the admission of Rwanda to the Commonwealth.”

There are currently 53 countries in the Commonwealth, which gives an equal platform to small and large nations to lobby for trade deals, influence world powers and leaders such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

But Daniel Howden of The Independent alludes that there may have another reason for the African country wanting to become the 54 member of the Commonwealth. Blame over responsibility for the 1994 Rwanda genocide has caused France and Rwanda to severe ties over accusations of the others involvement, which ultimately led Rwanda to boycott the French language in support of English.  Howden reports in an article entitled ‘It’s really about Kigali getting back at Paris’ that “one cabinet minister in the capital, Kigali, was heard to remark that Rwanda must be allowed into the Commonwealth club of English-speaking nations because “French is a dying language and we want to be part of a living language”.