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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 12:18 GMT
Rwanda seeks to join Commonwealth
Skulls
The consequences of the 1994 genocide are still being felt
Rwanda says it is applying to join the Commonwealth, despite its historic association with Francophone countries.

Co-operation Minister Rosemary Museminali said she hoped its application would be approved during the 2007 Commonwealth summit in Uganda.

Relations with France have deteriorated in recent months after a French judge implicated Rwanda's President Paul Kagame in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Mozambique is the only Commonwealth member without historical UK ties.

It joined the organisation 11 years ago.

A Commonwealth team led by former Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson is to consider the application.

Algeria, Yemen, Sudan, Israel and the Palestinian territories are said to be seeking to join in November next year too.

Currently, the Commonwealth group has 53 member countries - mainly made up of countries with colonial ties to the UK.

Row

The 1994 shooting down of a plane carrying then Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana triggered the genocide in which around 800,000 people died.

President Kagame has dismissed accusations of his involvement in the killing of his predecessor - accusing France of actively supporting the killings during the genocide.

France denies involvement in the genocide and says its military interventions helped Rwandans.

Diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France have broken down and Rwanda has expelled French organisations working in the country.


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