Ahead of his one-day visit to Barbados on Friday evening, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called for solidarity among African and Caribbean countries saying they must work together to advance their common positions and interests globally.
Addressing a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament in Jamaica on Thursday, the Rwandan President, who is ending his three-day state visit today, said Africa and the Caribbean must open direct lines of communication.
Kagame takes over the chairmanship of the 54-member Commonwealth grouping when it meets in the African country in June, and his comments comes against the backdrop of division within the regional integration movement regarding the appointment of a Secretary General for the Commonwealth.
The incumbent, the Dominican-born Dame Patricia Scotland is facing a challenge from Jamaica, who last week announced that its Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith, would seek the position, a development that forced regional leaders to meet in an emergency session without fully resolving the matter.
“In our diversity, we share common traits. Our people are resilient, creative and, as our common history shows, also indestructible. This mutual recognition should have practical, tangible effects. We belong to a number of important multilateral bodies, including the Commonwealth and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States,” Kagame told legislators.
“Africa and the Caribbean should work together to advance common positions in these bodies where our interests align, as they often do. Climate change and global health are two urgent examples,” he said, adding that the two regions are beyond relating to each other through intermediaries.
“Our diplomats tend to meet in London, New York, or Geneva. I have no problem with that, but we could do it otherwise – directly.”
Kagame said that it is “high time” for Africa and the Caribbean to work together in a “direct and sustained” manner both through representative regional organisations – CARICOM and the African Union – and bilaterally.
He also wants direct people-to-people exchanges, particularly for the youth and entrepreneurs.
Prior to his departure later today, President Kagame will meet with Prime Minister Andrew Holness for bilateral talks and a government statement said that the two leaders are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) .
Holness said Kagame’s visit presented an opportunity to deepen collaboration between the two countries.
“We believe that there is much for us to share and learn from each other. Through our exchanges, we would have had the opportunities to take forward technical cooperation in several field.
“We’re looking forward to advancing our economic relations through increased trading and investment prospects particularly as it relates to logistics, special economic zones agriculture, and manufacturing,” he told Parliament. (CMC/BT)
PHOTOS: JAMAICA INFORMATION SERVICE, JAMAICA OBSERVER