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Rwanda scores coup with Commonwealth entry, renewed France ties

Former Belgian colony Rwanda was accepted this weekend to the Commonwealth of former British colonies and re-established diplomatic relations with its long-time arch-nemesis, France.

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For Rwanda, Saturday may come to be seen as the day the tiny central African nation came out of the diplomatic wilderness.

On the very same day that Rwanda was accepted as a member in the club of former British colonies, the Commonwealth of Nations, Rwanda also managed to re-establish diplomatic relations with its long-time arch-nemesis, France, the nation that many Rwandan politicians blame for involvement in the 1994 genocide.

It's a turning point of sorts for the tiny landlocked nation of just 9 million citizens, reflecting both Rwanda's aspirations of becoming a regional economic powerhouse like Singapore and its Israel-like penchant for pushing around larger, weaker nations in the region.

"This is a paradigm shift for both countries [France and Rwanda]," says Fran├žois Grignon, Africa program director for the International Crisis Group in Nairobi. "I think this reflects Rwanda's shifting from the instrumentalization of guilt over the genocide toward its aspirations of becoming a Singapore of Africa."

As for France, under the leadership of President Nicholas Sarkozy, it will make decisions based on its business interests, rather than mere preference for French-speaking nations.

A coup for President Kagame


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