June 16, 2020

Russia-Rwanda Nuclear Deal Sails Through Parliament with Ease Despite Green Party Opposition

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Moscow: In December 2018, Rwanda’s Infrastructure Minister Claver Gatete signed nuclear deal with Alexey Likhachev, the director general of Russia’s ROSATOM. It is from this deal that the Center is going to be established in Rwanda

The Lower Chamber of Parliament on Monday unanimously voted to ratify a deal allowing the Russian government to establish a nuclear center in Rwanda.

The lawmakers ratified the agreement between Rwanda and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the construction of the Centre of Nuclear Science and Technology. The agreement was signed in Sochi in October last year.

Green Party parliamentary duo, the party leader Dr Frank Habineza and his colleague Jean Claude Ntezimana, were the only lawmakers who voted against. They have put up a spirited public opposition to all nuclear plans in the country.

The Green Party’s war on the nuclear project has been on since since late 2018 when plans for a nuclear energy law rose. In February 2019, the bill came to Parliament.

During the final reading of the bill in March, Habineza said Rwanda is “too small” for a nuclear plant. The law passed anyway.

Now, government has moved quickly and already has an agreement with the Russians for a nuclear center. It is this facility that the Green Party is worried is starting point for potential nuclear plant in years to come.

In a statement on Tuesday reacting to the ratification of the Rwanda-Russian deal, Habineza said that nuclear energy would cause more harm than good.

“Living near a nuclear energy plant is like living near a nuclear bomb which can explode and cause destruction of life and property to the nation and its neighboring countries. Considering the high population density of Rwanda, there is no place where the plant can be built and the safety of Rwandans and neighbors will be at great risk,” he said.

The Green Party accuses the Parliamentary commission and the Government of only “[focusing] on the advantages of having the nuclear center in Rwanda and never mentioned any disadvantage so that MPs could make an informed judgement”.

Habineza says government didn’t answer issues raised such as how consequences of radiation would be handled, high cost involved and how nuclear waste would be managed.

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