At the request of King Mohammed VI, the Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani flew to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.
He was welcomed by the Rwandan Minister of State in charge of Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.
In a statement to the press, El Othmani said Morocco’s participation in the event is a testament to “his compassion and solidarity with the people and leaders of Rwanda.”
He commended the country for the progress it has made since, calling it a “renaissance that turns the page from the shock of genocide.”
El Othmani also emphasized Morocco’s commitment to strengthening relations between the two countries. He said Morocco aims to “develop its cooperation with this country at all levels, economic, political, as well as in the exchange of expertise”.
He added that “the two countries play an important role in their region and in Africa.”
The Rwandan minister echoed El Othmani’s sentiment, saying that Morocco’s participation shows “the strong relations between the two countries and its great development.”
This isn’t the first show of friendship between the two countries. In 2016, King Mohammed VI visited Rwanda to strengthen bilateral relations and increase cooperation. While there, King Mohammed VI visited the memorial dedicated to the victims of the Rwandan genocide in Kigali.
The King also laid a wreath of flowers and paid tribute to the victims of the genocide by writing a message in Arabic in the commemoration book at the memorial.
The King’s message in 2016 read: “The genocide is a dark period in history and memory of the Rwandan people. It is a human tragedy that will always question the conscience of humanity. Today Rwanda opens its arms to life, with confidence in the present and optimism and hope for the future, which promises to be marked by love, coexistence, security, and stability.”
The Rwandan genocide in 1994 led to 800,000 deaths, a tenth of the country’s population, in just a 100-day period. The genocide was part of a civil war in which the ethnic Hutu extremists targeted members of the minority Tutsi community.
The commemoration began on Saturday with a flame lighting ceremony at the memorial in Kigali where 250,000 victims of the genocide are buried. The flame will burn for 100 days.
Paul Kagame, who led a rebel force that ended the slaughter, was the one to light the flame.
“In 1994, there was no hope, only darkness,” Kagame told the crowd gathered at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. “Today, light radiates from this place. How did it happen? Rwanda became a family once again.”