French diplomatic delegation ‘denied Rwanda visa’

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame with the new flag

A French diplomatic delegation has recently suffered an embarrassing visa refusal by Rwandan authorities.

The authority presented an application for a visa which bore a picture of the former Rwandan flag that was in use at the time of the 1994 genocide.

Report describes it as the first hitch in the relationship between the new French government and Kigali.

On July 9 and 10, an official French delegation was due to travel through Rwanda on its way to Cameroon.

The delegation comprised of the Director of Africa and the Indian Ocean matters at France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of the Sub-Saharan Africa Department of the France’s development Agency (AFD), as well as an economic advisor who were due to meet Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, in Kigali.

The French Foreign Ministry submitted the delegation’s visa applications to the Rwandan embassy in Paris, as well as their travel itinerary.

In front of each country they were to travel through, was a picture of a flag.

The Rwandan flag printed was complete with three vertical bands (green, yellow, red) and a huge capital R in the middle.

The problem, however, was that Rwanda changed its flag in 2001. The one in the French Republic’s archives was the one used by the former government of Rwanda’s late president, Juvénal Habyarimana.

Report says when they contacted the ministry of foreign affairs they did not deny that the planned journey had been postponed.

Their explanation was that due to an administrative error, the visas could not be issued in time.

A source familiar with the matter said “It is only a postponement, not a diplomatic problem.”

 An unnamed Rwandan official is reported as saying:

“By way of explanation, we were told that the flags were generated by the computer system and that they only saw them when they were printed”.

 “If the computer system of the Quai d’Orsay (France’s ministry of foreign affairs) generates a Rwandan flag that has not been in use for over 15 years, it indicates that there is a certain nostalgia (for the past).”

 BBC/Rebecca/Sammie Idika