The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has acted decisively and pulled out of a meeting with President Paul Kagame on Friday after receiving a petition alleging the Rwandan leader has violated human rights, an ally of Zapatero said. They had been scheduled as drivers of the Millennium Development Goals — a United Nations initiative to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce infant mortality along with other goals by 2015. “The prime minister yesterday received a petition from various political groups saying that they didn’t think it was appropriate for the meeting to take place,” Vice President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said on Spanish television.
De la Vega said Zapatero had been sensitive to the petition and would meet other political parties to explain why he had decided not see Kagame. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos took Zapatero’s place at the meeting, which was also attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban had raised human rights concerns with Kagame. “The secretary-general … noted the upcoming elections in Rwanda and expressed concern about recent incidents causing political tensions,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. “He stressed the need to uphold human rights. The secretary-general encouraged the Rwandan authorities to take immediate action, including a thorough investigation into the latest incidents, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Kagame’s good governance credentials which were enhanced when former British Prime Minister introduced his Africa Initiative for good governance in Rwanda, seems to have been seriously dented as concerns of human rights abuse in the country has increased rapidly as elections are drawing closer. Opposition parties have claimed their members have been subjected to random attacks by security forces which may have resulted in several deaths.
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