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Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, says Cameron’s visit to Rwanda is exactly the kind of the thing a potential Prime Minister should be doing.

Thirteen years ago the world abandoned Rwanda.

After 100 days of brutal and highly
organised killings between April and July 1994, nearly one million
rotting corpses were left strewn across this beautiful country; almost
a third of all the children had been made orphans and millions of
traumatised survivors sought safety in disease-ridden refugee camps.

Since then Britain has played a leading
role in rebuilding Rwanda and has replaced France as its closest
European friend. The UK’s partnership with Rwanda is a major tick in
the credit column of this current government and a key feature of our
foreign policy towards the troubled but highly significant Great Lakes
region of Africa.

The next Conservative Prime Minister
will inherit this relationship together with a whole range of choices
about how to use this relationship for the benefit of Rwandans and for
the wider region. It is entirely appropriate for David Cameron to visit
this country, to meet President Kagame (one of Africa’s most competent
leaders), to spend time with DfID, NGOs and faith organisations who
deliver huge amounts of aid and to return to the UK with a deeper
understanding of the problems facing Africa.

When I was in Rwanda last month with a
small cross-party group of MPs I was told by some of the opposition
politicians there how excited they were about the forthcoming visit of
the Conservative team. There is a great need for training and education
there about the role of opposition parties and I hope that one of the
fruits of our Project Umubano will be to provide some encouragement and
guidance to Rwanda’s democratic development. It is easy for us in the
UK to underestimate just how much it means to Rwandans for the Leader
of the UK’s main opposition party to visit their parliament and to
engage with their country.

There are also some very immediate matters over which the Rwandan government will be looking for David Cameron’s assistance. For example, currently within one our prisons there are four Rwandan suspected genocidaires who, according to some reports, may be responsible for the deaths of up to 100,000 people. As an opposition we have a helpful role to play in encouraging our own government to make progress on their extradition and also to put pressure on the governments of France and Belguim to be more proactive in hunting down those suspects residing within their borders. To think that a 48 hour trip into Rwanda is somehow a "jolly" – a description that appeared as a quote in a Daily Mail piece today – is frankly nuts. This is exactly the kind of visit a potential Prime Minister should be making as Parliament winds down for summer. And there is precious little that is jolly about the issues that Rwanda is still coming to terms with.

The question David Cameron faced on Sunday was whether the crisis here in the UK caused by the floods should mean cancellation of the trip. For those hundreds of thousands of people caught without water or power and whose homes and cars have been damaged, the floods are seriously bad news. Constituency MPs can be a tremendous support to their communities at times like these and it may take weeks before the lives of those affected will return to normal.

But I believe David Cameron made the right decision and for the right reasons. After spending time with his own affected community at the weekend he continued with the visit to Rwanda. To have pulled out at the last hour would have been a huge let down for that country. This is an important visit for them and for us. Flood victims in England or genocide survivors in Africa: the choice is not one over another. "
There are also some very immediate
matters over which the Rwandan government will be looking for David
Cameron’s assistance. For example, currently within one of our prisons
there are four Rwandan suspected genocidaires who, according to
some reports, may be responsible for the deaths of up to 100,000
people. As an opposition we have a helpful role to play in encouraging
our own government to make progress on their extradition and also to
put pressure on the governments of France and Belgium to be more
proactive in hunting down those suspects residing within their borders.

To think that a 48 hour trip into Rwanda
is somehow a "jolly" is frankly nuts. This is exactly the kind of
visit a potential Prime Minister should be making as Parliament winds
down for summer. And there is precious little that is jolly about the
issues that Rwanda is still coming to terms with.

The question David Cameron faced on
Sunday was whether the crisis here in the UK caused by the floods
should mean cancellation of the trip. For those hundreds of thousands
of people caught without water or power and whose homes and cars have
been damaged, the floods are seriously bad news. Constituency MPs can
be a tremendous support to their communities at times like these and it
may take weeks before the lives of those affected will return to normal.

But I believe David Cameron made the
right decision and for the right reasons. After spending time with his
own affected community at the weekend he continued with the visit to
Rwanda. To have pulled out at the last hour would have been a huge let
down for that country. This is an important visit for them and for us.

Flood victims in England or genocide survivors in Africa: the choice is not one over another. That genocide happened on our watch. David Cameron’s commitment to Rwanda is a demonstration that the assumptions and world-view that shaped the last Conservative Government’s approach to Africa have been turned upside down.

That genocide happened on our watch.

David Cameron’s commitment to Rwanda is
a demonstration that the assumptions and world-view that shaped the
last Conservative Government’s approach to Africa have been turned
upside down.

28 comments for: Stephen Crabb MP: In defence of the Rwanda trip

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