“Peace and security in the eastern Congo remain elusive… and we believe that Rwanda continues to have a critical and proactive role to play in stabilizing the region,” Donald Koran, soon to be the US Ambassador to Rwanda told US senators during his conformation hearing.
He also praised the Rwandan dictator, General Paul Kagame, for his support of the international military, political and diplomatic efforts to overthrow the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadaffi.
The new U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Donald W. (“Don”) Koran, who will be replacing the more political and career diplomat, W. Stuart Symington, was nominated by President Obama in April 2011 and is viewed as an intelligence expert.
His career spans academia, as a visiting professor at Tulane University, government and private sector, as staff economist for the Federal Trade Commission and director of research for the National Cable Television Association. He joined the Foreign affairs service in 1984. Since then, he has held several appointments focusing on West and Central Africa, especially in intelligence and research.
His last tour in Rwanda was at the height of the civil war, from 1997-2001. He was at the US Embassy in Rwanda as deputy chief of mission, when the current Rwandan regime led by the elite from the Tutsi ethnic minority was fighting an insurgency by rebels from the Hutu ethnic majority. The Hutu rebels were eventually defeated and fled to the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where they remain to date.
The return of Donald Koran to Rwanda appears to mark a shift in the relations between Kigali and Washington. According to Ambassador Koran, his tenure will focus on democracy and human rights:
“The advancement of democracy and human rights are important components of our policy towards Rwanda, and one which the U.S. and Rwanda are committed to working closely together to achieve. We believe it is important for Rwanda to continue to develop and strengthen its democratic institutions, to ensure political space for the opposition and to promote a strong independent media. In this context, I look forward, if confirmed, to build on and expand our mutual efforts with Rwanda on these important issues. Through our USAID Mission we have funded democracy and governance programs to strengthen the justice sector, media, and civil society,” he told US lawmakers and the press.
He also promises to put an emphasis to improving relations between Kigali and Kinshasa, while acknowledging that Rwanda is at the heart of the instability on the region: "Rwanda continues to have a critical and proactive role to play in stabilizing the region."
Don Koran will succeed a career diplomat, W. Stuart Symington who was selected by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 1, 2008. The United States maintains in Kigali an extensive and impressive embassy, built on the site of a former military camp. Most of the US services including NGOs are based on the EMbassy premises.
He promises to continue the “US efforts to support economic and political progress. Rwanda’s development and stability are essential for its citizens and critical to the stability of Central Africa.”
© 2011. AfroAmerica Network.