Aga Khan now awarded France’s high­est hon­our

His High­ness was praised for his com­mit­ment to­wards the cause of peace, plu­ral­ism and devel­op­ment

The East African - - NEWS - By FRED OLUOCH Special Cor­re­spon­dent

France has awarded His High­ness the Aga Khan, the coun­try’s high­est na­tional medal of hon­our in recog­ni­tion of his ef­forts to im­prove the qual­ity of life for the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple around the world.

The award is in recog­ni­tion of the Aga Khan’s Di­a­mond Jubilee, com­mem­o­rat­ing 60 years as Imam (spir­i­tual leader) of the world’s Shia Is­maili Mus­lim com­mu­nity.

Pre­sent­ing the award on be­half of Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron on Septem­ber 19, France’s Min­is­ter for Europe and For­eign Af­fairs, Jean-yves Le Drian, praised His High­ness’s com­mit­ment to the cause of peace, plu­ral­ism and devel­op­ment.

“France wishes to warmly ex­press its grat­i­tude by el­e­vat­ing you to the dig­nity of the Grand Cross in the or­der of the Le­gion of Hon­our. On be­half of the pres­i­dent of the repub­lic, and by virtue of the pow­ers con­ferred upon me, we be­stow you the dig­nity of the Grand Cross of the Le­gion of Hon­our,” said Mr Le Drian.

The award cer­e­mony was fol­lowed by a din­ner hosted by the French gov­ern­ment in hon­our of the Aga Khan. In at­ten­dance were gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and lead­ing mem­bers of French so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions. Mem­bers of His High­ness’s fam­ily — his brother Prince Amyn, his son Prince Rahim and his daugh­ter Princess Zahra — were also in at­ten­dance to­gether with se­nior lead­ers from the Aga Khan Devel­op­ment Net­work and the Is­maili com­mu­nity.

The oc­ca­sion also marked the 10th an­niver­sary of the col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment be­tween the Aga Khan Devel­op­ment Net­work and the French gov­ern­ment signed in the 2008.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween AKDN and the French Devel­op­ment Agency cov­ers health, ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and ru­ral devel­op­ment. It has made a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the qual­ity of life of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in Africa and Asia.

Key ex­am­ples in­clude the Heart and Can­cer Cen­tre at the Aga Khan Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal in Nairobi, Kenya; sup­port for the French Med­i­cal In­sti­tute for Moth­ers and Children in Kabul, Afghanistan; sup­port for health services in Dar es Salaam, Tan­za­nia; the Bu­ja­gali hy­dropower plant in Uganda; and Roshan, the first and largest mo­bile tele­phone provider in Afghanistan.

The Aga Khan said he at­tached a lot of im­por­tance to the part­ner­ship as it was built on shared val­ues.

“For years, we have worked to­gether in dif­fer­ent fields, in France, abroad and al­ways in a close part­ner­ship, of com­mon points of view, of com­mon ob­jec­tives and, above all, re­spect for all the great val­ues of France. For me this part­ner­ship is par­tic­u­larly important. It is a part­ner­ship built on his­tor­i­cal val­ues. And these his­tor­i­cal val­ues have proven them­selves around the world. These are val­ues of French ori­gin, but which to­day are universal val­ues,” he said.

The Aga Khan’s con­tri­bu­tions to the preser­va­tion of French her­itage were also recog­nised. He is founder and pres­i­dent of the Foun­da­tion pour la Sau­ve­g­arde et le Développe­ment du Do­maine de Chan­tilly, which has made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the con­ser­va­tion and restora­tion of the do­main, in­clud­ing the Château of Chan­tilly.

The Grand-croix de la Lé­gion d’hon­neur is the high­est French Medal of Hon­our and was es­tab­lished in 1802 by Napoleon Bon­a­parte. Pre­vi­ous re­cip­i­ents in­clude Prince Charles, Emperor Ak­i­hito (Ja­pan), King Willem-alexan­der (Nether­lands), Vá­clav Havel (Czech Repub­lic), King Hus­sein (Jor­dan) as well as French pres­i­dents and former prime ministers.

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