French diplomatic delegation 'denied Rwanda visa'

Tuesday July 11 2017

The current Rwanda flag.

The current Rwanda flag. 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 replaced in 2001. PHOTO | FILE 

BBC
By BBC
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A French diplomatic delegation recently suffered an embarrassing visa refusal by Rwandan authorities when they 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, Jeune Afrique reports.

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

It says on 9 and 10 July, an official French delegation was due to travel through Rwanda on it's 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.

In early July, 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.

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Rwanda's old flag replaced in 2002. PHOTO | BBC

Rwanda's old flag replaced in 2002. PHOTO | BBC

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

Jeune Afrique, a French-language weekly news magazine, 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 added. "It is only a postponement, not a diplomatic problem, "

A Rwandan official, not named by the paper, 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 in use for over 15 years, it indicates that there is a certain nostalgia (for the past)."

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