February 25, 2019

Is Qatar Bringing its International Anti-Corruption Award Ceremony to Kigali? (UPDATED) 

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Qatar’s Attorney-General Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri is in Rwanda, on the latest leg of his African tour that also took him to Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

It is not exactly clear when he arrived in Rwanda, but on Sunday, Dr Al Marri met separately with a high-level justice and local government ministry delegations.

The State Minister for constitutional affairs Evode Uwizeyimana and his team made a presentation on Rwanda’s anti-corruption drive as did the Minister for Local Government Prof. Anastase Shyaka who also emphasized Rwanda’s democratization journey and the fight against corruption that has made the country perform well in doing business and ant-corruption indicators globally.

“This is a very complex history about Rwanda’s journey of recovery which we are very humbled to share with you,” said Uwizeyimana, adding he hoped the presentation would “cover all your expectations.”

While Uwizeyimana emphasized that the visit aimed to deepen cooperation, it wasn’t articulated why, specifically, the Qatari officials are interested in the country’s anti-corruption initiative.

 Is it possible the Qatari officials are looking for an anti-corruption partner?

Dr Al Marri is the UN Special Advocate on Stolen Asset Recovery since 2012. He is only the second to run the new office.

It was announced at the time that the most important reason for the Qatari’s choice is the effort being exerted by the State of Qatar to combat corruption.

Qatar ranked 29th out of 180 countries in the 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) compiled by Transparency International.

In 2016, Qatar established the International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award.

It was named after the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani.

Last year, the award was held in Malaysia in early December and recognized campaigners Thelma Aldana (Guatemala), Muhyieddeen Touq (Jordan), and Gherardo Colombo (Italy).

The three individuals were said to have displayed “exceptional contributions to anti-corruption efforts” whose impact has been felt in their countries and abroad.

Visiting Qatar Attornet General Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri meets the State Minister for constitutional affairs Evode Uwizeyimana and his team

President Paul Kagame has met the Emir of Qatar three times in the last six months.

Most recently, on February 15, President Kagame met with the Emir Al Thani on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Last year, they met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. In November, President Kagame was on a state visit in Qatar where they also held high-level talks.

The two leaders presided over signing of bilateral agreements on air services, reciprocal promotion and protection of investments, and a memorandum of understanding on economic, commercial, and technical cooperation.

Qatar Airways is already operating direct flights to Rwanda since 2012.

Rebranded in 1997, QA has become a global carrier. It won the ‘World’s Best Business Class’ at the 2018 World Airline Awards from Skytrax.

A strategic arm of Qatar, the brains behind it have years of experience to share with Rwandair.

The two countries could be working on a much wider relationship including gas extraction from Lake Kivu. Qatar is the world’s top liquefied natural gas player, both in terms of exports and liquefaction capacity.

Apart from gas, Rwandair and judicial links, the two countries seem to be working on creating an anti-corruption coalition.

To begin with, since Rwanda has been positioning itself as a graft free state, which puts it on the road to host the Emir’s Award ceremony.

If the awards are held in Kigali, the Emir will be the chief guest as it was in the previous ceremonies in Austria, and in Malaysia – bringing hundreds of rich gulf quests to spend their oil and gas dollars in the country of a thousand hills.

Should the event be held here, it will be another coup for Rwanda’s push to make itself an international conference hub in the region.

Visiting Qatar Attornet General Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri meets the Minister for Local Government Prof. Anastase Shyaka

Continued engagement of the two countries puts some Rwandans and organizations on the list of future possible recipients of the anti-corruption award.

And the country isn’t short of such individuals. For one, hard-talking anti-graft campaigner Marie Immaculée Ingabire, head of Transparency Rwanda, could be one of them.

The award has not yet been given to a sitting political leader; a factor that could exclude President Kagame from the list of probable winners should Rwandans be considered; although he is believed to be the champion of zero-tolerance to corruption.

Our efforts to confirm whether the next Qatar “International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award” will be held in Kigali didn’t bear any fruits as no official was willing to confirm or deny that it was on the cards.

UPDATED Monday 16hrs:

Dr Ali bin Fetais Al Marri also paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame. They discussed a number of joint anti-corruption cooperation projects to strengthen the international effort to consolidate the rule of law in the African continent.

The AG also met with Foreign Minister, Richard Sezibera, where they discussed the prospects for joint action in the fight against corruption and the rule of law, according Qatar News Agency (QNA)

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