Bush moves on after hero's reception in Tanzania

Other News Materials 19 February 2008 05:00 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - President George W. Bush, basking in a hero's reception from Tanzania, on Tuesday commemorates one of the darkest episodes in Africa's recent history, the Rwandan genocide.

Moving on from Tanzania, the centerpiece of his five-nation African tour, Bush stops off briefly in Kigali, visiting a memorial to the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by Hutu extremists.

It will be a sober interlude after Bush's three-day visit to Tanzania, where he was feted both by cheering crowds and the country's leader, Jakaya Kikwete, who praised the U.S. leader and called him a friend of Africa.

Bush will visit a genocide museum where the remains of some 250,000 victims are buried.

In the past, genocide survivors have criticized the United States for not intervening to stop the slaughter.

"There's nothing we can tell him - we do not even plan on meeting him because I am sure he knows about the plight of Rwanda genocide survivors," Theodore Simburudali, president the Ibuka genocide survivor group, told Reuters.

In 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton, who was in power at the time of the genocide, visited Rwanda and apologized for not making more of an effort to stop the killings.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, like the other presidents on Bush's tour, is seen by Washington as one of a new generation of progressive African leaders.

Bush, unpopular in much of the world for his handling of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is respected in many parts of Africa, where he has spent more money on aid than Clinton.

He has pledged to increase total assistance to $8.7 billion by 2010, double 2004 levels.

Bush was lauded in Tanzania for his personal programs to fight AIDS and malaria and for aid schemes that emphasize self-reliance rather than unqualified assistance.

The president's Millennium Challenge Corp. funds development in nations that meet criteria for good governance, fighting corruption and free market economic policies.

In Tanzania, which Washington considers a model of African development, Bush signed over the largest ever grant under the program, for $698 million.

After holding talks with Kagame, Bush will visit an AIDS project before talking to Rwandan troops who have served in Sudan's Darfur region as African Union peacekeepers.

"We feel proud because it's recognition of our contribution towards bringing security and stability not only to Darfur but also our region. The U.S government has been our strong partner in this," army spokeswoman Jill Rutaremara told Reuters.

The United States has helped train and transport Rwandan troops serving in Darfur, where Washington says genocide has occurred during five years of violence in which international experts say 200,000 have died.

The Sudanese government denies this, saying only 9,000 have died.

Bush is not visiting Kenya, despite being next door in Tanzania and Rwanda, but he sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice there on Monday to help former U.N. chief Kofi Annan to end a post-election crisis that has killed 1,000 people.

Rice called on government and opposition to accelerate a power-sharing deal and said there could be no "business as usual" with Kenya until the crisis ended.

Bush travels to his fourth stop, Ghana, on Tuesday evening.