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Kagame and His Cronies Regime Should Get Ready for Trial

Posted by rwandaonline on March 25, 2009

The Darker Side of RPF Regime is Nocking the Doors of Hell

The RPF Commander Mr.Paul Kagame

The RPF Commander Mr.Paul Kagame

This shiny surface, however, hides a gloomy reality, with Kagame accused of war crimes committed before and during the 1994 genocide, denying political and press freedom in Rwanda subtly recomposing the old power-structure in favor of the Tutsi ethnic group.

 

 

 

One of the most notorious accusations against Kagame has come from French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who investigated the 6 April 1994 plane crash that killed then-Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, then Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira and three French nationals.

Bruguiere’s investigation concluded that the aircraft was shot down on orders from Kagame himself. Not only has Kagame denied all accusations but has even argued that France directly participated in the genocide that followed the assassinations. Since then, diplomatic relations between the two counties have been frozen.

According to many observers, understanding who was behind the incident is a fundamental step for reconciliation in Rwanda, not only because important political figures were killed, but also because the massacre of the Tutsis began only hours after the news of the accident was broadcast on the radio. The plane crash, therefore, played a direct role in provoking the genocide: Whoever ordered the shooting carries an enormous responsibility.

Kagame is also accused of denying political and press freedom in Rwanda. According to the Economist , “He allows less political space and press freedom at home than Robert Mugabe does in Zimbabwe.”

“There is no press freedom in Rwanda,” Timothy Spence, press and communication manager of the International Press Institute (IPI), told ISN Security Watch.

“Over the past few years, journalists have continuously been arrested and harassed because they are accused of fuelling the genocide ideology […]. But these allegations are often used as a strategy to repress all criticism.”

After the genocide, in fact, Kagame outlawed the practice of differentiating between Hutus and Tutsis in order to promote reconciliation and unity among Rwandans. 

“There are tremendously good things happening in Rwanda, but much more could happen if these restrictions and subtle intimidations against journalists came to an end,” said Spence.

The subject of ethnicity has become very contradictory in the past years, considering that even though Kagame condemns all talks about Hutu and Tutsi groups, the ruling RFP party has a clear ethnic connotation (Tutsi) and the large majority of government positions were given to members of the Tutsi ethnical group.

The most outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu who became famous for saving over 1,000 Tutsis during the genocide and inspiring the movie “Hotel Rwanda.” He now lives in Belgium.

In his autobiography “An Ordinary Man,” he made serious accusations against Kagame, stating that:

“Rwanda is today a nation governed by and for the benefit of a small group of elite Tutsis […] Those few Hutus who have been elevated to high-ranking posts are usually empty suits without any real authority of their own. They are known locally as Hutus de service or Hutus for hire.”

Kagame’s repression of political opposition came in a very subtle but effective way, by denying rights to launch political campaigns or to organize meetings and political events.

In fact, Kagame’s coalition made huge gains in the 2003 presidential election and the 2008 Chamber of Deputies election (95 percent and 79 percent, respectively), but both were characterized by thelack of credible opposition parties.

Uncertain Future

Kagame’s seven-year term will end in September 2010.

At the moment, Kagame’s rule stands on solid ground due to a fast-improving economy, but there are concerns that if he does not tackle Rwanda’s political imbalances, the country will fall back into ethnic tension and violence.

There are many examples of strong African leaders who have promoted economic and social reforms in their initial periods while neglecting the freedom of political opposition. Eventually they failed. Mugabe in Zimbabwe is one case in point.

Although Rwanda has proven itself an exception, the question that will surround the next elections is the most classic African dilemma: Is Rwanda ready to combine economic growth with a fully functioning multi-party democracy?


Edoardo Totolo is a freelance writer and academic researcher based in Amsterdam. His fields of expertise are private sector development and the impact of informal economies on human security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

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One Response to “Kagame and His Cronies Regime Should Get Ready for Trial”

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