Rwanda says Rusesabagina move result of 'desire to reset' US ties
What you need to know:
- Rusesabagina's case has long been source of contention between Washington and Kigali, with Kagame last year insisting the US could not "bully" him into ordering his release.
Rwanda said Friday its decision to commute a 25-year prison sentence against Paul Rusesabagina, a fierce critic of President Paul Kagame, resulted from a wish to reset ties with the United States.
"This is the result of a shared desire to reset US-Rwanda relationship," Kagame's press secretary Stephanie Nyombayire said on Twitter.
Rusesabagina's case has long been source of contention between Washington and Kigali, with Kagame last year insisting the US could not "bully" him into ordering his release.
The United States has said Rusesabagina, who has a US Green Card as well as Belgian citizenship, was "wrongfully detained" after a plane carrying him to Burundi was diverted to Rwanda in August 2020.
Relations have also been strained over Rwanda's alleged support for rebel groups fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kagame had signalled during a visit to Qatar this month that the government was looking at resolving the Rusesabagina case.
Qatar announced on Friday that Rusesabagina, whose actions to save people during the 1994 genocide inspired the "Hotel Rwanda" movie, will fly to Doha after his expected release and then go on to the United States.
Talks on a potential release started at the end of 2022 and a breakthrough came last week in discussions between Kagame and the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said.
"The close relationship between Rwanda & Qatar was key," Nyombayire tweeted.