Monthly Archives: August 2017

Kagame’s Rwanda Is A Serial Lying Nation

When a ruler of a nation lies, the rest of his regime follows – and soon lying becomes a way of life. That how Rwanda became a lying nation. President Paul Kagame routinely lies and doubles down when caught. Perhaps the most embarrassing moment for the Rwandan dictator was in Dubai two years ago when asked why Rwanda does not manufacture anything, despite being touted as Africa’s economic success story. Kagame was caught off guard – and stammered something about Rwanda manufacturing computers, and that even the boxes in which computers are packaged read

“Made in Rwanda.”

This culture of lying has cascaded downward into the whole system. And today I caught one such big lie from, of all places, Rwanda’s premiere knowledge centre – no less than the University of Rwanda (UR).

In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, Prof Nelson Ijumba, made the following claims, regarding the UR’s international rankings:

Since UR started, our publications have gone up, volume is not high but impact is high, we are now second to Makerere University in the East African Region. Our position in ranking is not bad, top 10 in East Africa, we are among the top 7 per cent in universities in Africa, worldwide about top 30 per cent but we would like to do better.

Prof IJUMBA

Prof Nelson Ijumba: “University of Rwanda is second only to Makerere University; among the top 7% in Africa; and among 30% globally”

This is a disgrace – in a normal country, this senior official would be held accountable for such outrageous and deliberate deceitfulness.

The New Times, too, is not bothered to challenge such bogus claims because the newspaper is part of Kagame’s lying machine. In reality, UR’s ranks 106th in Africa, and 3,557th in the world. In the East African region, not only does UR not feature among the main national universities such as Makerere University, University of Nairobi, and University of Dar Es Salaam, it is not even competitive among second-tier institutions such as Moi University in Kenya, or Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda.

Let us also not forget that the regime has financial difficulties to the extent that UR’s professors have not been receiving their salaries for the past five months. How can professors struggling to feed their families perform effectively – whether in researching and publishing, or teaching and supervising future scholars and subject experts? How can a university that does not fulfill its basic obligations achieve any significant ranking?

Kagame and Rwandan officials who lie about performance should know that there is no shortcut to success. Dictators world-over are in such a hurry to boast about achievements, and eagerly manipulate statistics or exaggerate the little they may have achieved. But there are no shortcuts to the development of a country or a university. The key to any long-term success is to take the necessary steps to steadily progress – as opposed to skipping any of the steps. In the case of UR, the Kagame regime must begin with paying teachers and staff their salaries. Lying about performance does not pay – sooner or later, the liar gets caught, as in this case with Prof Ijumba.

Democracy Is Rwanda’s Losing Candidate

merlin-to-scoop-125499506-423236-master768Supporters of Rwandan president Paul Kagame attend the closing rally for his campaign in Kigali, two days before he was reelected to office on August 4. CreditMarco Longari/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Paul Kagame has held the reins of power in Rwanda since 1994, when his forces ousted the Hutu-led government that oversaw the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and others.

Since that bloody beginning, Mr. Kagame’s notable success in turning Rwanda around has raised hopes among not only his supporters but Western governments that, beyond healing divisions at home, he could be a ray of hope in a continent long troubled by authoritarian rulers.

But his election to a third term last week with a ludicrous 99 percent of the vote, against two opponents, is further evidence that despite Mr. Kagame’s achievements, he has all the makings of yet another strongman going through the motions of democracy.

Rwanda’s political opposition is all but eliminated, its news media silenced. The United States State Department cited “irregularities observed during voting” on Aug. 4. Elections in Rwanda have become little more than rubber stamps for Mr. Kagame’s perpetual presidency. Mr. Kagame has done everything possible to make sure balloting “will just be a formality,” as he put it last month. And a 2015 constitutional amendment paves the way for Mr. Kagame to remain in office until 2034.

Unlike others in Africa who use similar tactics to stay in power, Mr. Kagame has delivered real progress — economic growth, reductions in poverty and maternal mortality, progress in education and a business-friendly environment with low corruption and low crime.

Some of those gains may be exaggerated, however, and lower crime levels have come at a terrible price.

Last month, Human Rights Watch published an alarming report on the summary executions of suspected petty thieves by the Rwandan military, police, security units and even civilians encouraged by local authorities. Rwanda knows too well what can happen when the rule of law breaks down and citizens take justice into their own hands.

Meanwhile, world leaders have also been lulled into willful amnesia concerning the mass killings of Hutus in Congo in which Mr. Kagame’s forces were implicated after he took power.

His supporters abroad do Rwanda’s people no good by remaining silent on Mr. Kagame’s authoritarian behavior, with citizens fearful to speak their minds, run for political office or go about their business. As well as the country is doing, the dark side of Mr. Kagame’s success story makes Rwanda no model for the developing world.

New York Times

AMATORA 2017: GUVERINOMA Y’U RWANDA IKORERA MU BUHUNGIRO IRAHUMURIZA RUBANDA

Itangazo rigenewe Itangazamakuru

MU GIHE KITARENZE AMEZI 6 GUVERINOMA YA RUBANDA IKORERA MU BUHUNGIRO IZABA IMAZE GUHANGA INZIRA YO GUSEZERERA « Ikigirwamana »CYIYICAJE KU NGOMA.

Nyuma yo kwitegereza neza no gusesengura bihagije uko u Rwanda rwayobowe guhera taliki ya 1/10/1990 kugeza uyu munsi n’ibyago bikomeye byarugwiririye biturutse ku byemezo n’ibikorwa by’abategetsi babi , by’umwihariko Paul Kagame udaterwa isoni no kugenda arushaho kwerekana koko ko ari « Umunyagitugu w’umwicanyi utaranganwa impuhwe,Umusazi utagifite igaruriro, Umunyamurengwe usonzeye gusengwa nk’ Ikigirwamana » ;

I. Reka tubanze twibutse urugendo twakoze kugeza ubu :

1. Taliki ya 28/1/2013, Abataripfana b’ikubitiro bateraniye i Paris bashinga Ishyaka ISHEMA ry’URWANDA ryihaye intego yo gufasha abanyarwanda kwisubiza « ishema » ry’abenegihugu, bakanga kugirwa inkomamashyi n’abagereerwa mu Rwatubyaye ;

2. Ntibyatinze andi mashyaka ya « Nouvelle Génération » afata icyemezo cyo gushyigikira umushinga w’ishyaka Ishema wo kujya gukorera politiki mu Rwanda hashyizwe imbere « Kunga Abenegihugu kugira ngo bafatanye kwiyubakira u Rwanda rujya mbere »;

3. Twafashe igihe gihagije cyo kuganira , kujya impaka no kungurana ibitekerezo n’Abanyarwanda b’ingeri zose ndetse dukora ingendo zo gusanga impunzi mu bihugu binyuranye;

4. Twagendereye abayoboyi b’ibihugu by incuti tubasobanurira umushinga dufite, barawushima kandi batwizeza kuzawutera inkunga tugeze mu Rwanda ;

5. Hagenwe Ikipe igomba kuva mu buhungiro ikajya mu Rwanda, ihabwa Padiri Thomas Nahimana nk’umukandida mu matora y’umukuru w’igihugu yagombaga kuba muri Kanama 2017;

6. Nyamara uwo mugambi mwiza kandi w’amahoro wakomwe mu nkokora n’Umunyagitugu Paul Kagame wahisemo gukumira Padiri Thomas Nahimana n’Ikipe ye hifashishwa inzira igayitse yo kubasohora mu ndege zabajyanaga mu Rwanda incuro ebyiri zose, ni ukuvuga taliki ya 23/11/2016 i Nayirobi muri Kenya na taliki ya 23/1/2017 i Buruseli ho mu Bubiligi;

7. Icyo gikorwa cy’urugomo cyo guheza Ishyanga abenegihugu batavuga rumwe n’Inkotanyi cyahaye Bwana Paul Kagame, icyanzu cyo « kwiyimika nk’umwami wa Repubulika y’u Rwanda » binyuze mu ikinamico yiswe amatora yo ku ya3-4/8/2017;

II. Kubera izo mpamvu zose n’izindi nyinshi tutiriwe turondora, turatangariza Abanyarwanda n’umuryango mpuzamahanga ibi bikurikira :

1. Guverinoma y’u Rwanda ikorera mu buhungiro yashyizweho taliki ya 20 /2/2017,ikaba ihuriweho n’amashyaka menshi na Sosiyete Sivile, ntiyemera kandi nta gaciro na busa iha « ingirwamatora y’umukuru w’igihugu » yo ku itariki 3-4/8/2017 yahejwemo mu buryo buteye isoni abandi benegihugu bifuzaga kuba abakandida aribo Diane Shima Rwigara na Mwenedata Gilbert;

2.Turamenyesha rubanda ko Paul Kagame atakiri Perezida w’u Rwanda kuko manda ye ya nyuma yemererwaga n’Itegekonshinga yarangiye taliki ya 3/8/2017 bityo akaba atagomba kumvirwa no kuyobokwa nk’umukuru w’igihugu cyacu;

3.Dutangaje ko « Igisanaguverinoma » Paul Kagame yitegura gushyiraho ntaho kizaba gitaniye n’ « Agatsiko k’Abagizibanabi bitwaje imbunda » kagambiriye guheza Abanyarwanda mu iterabwoba no mu bucakara hagamijwe gusa gukomeza kubarya imitsi;

4 . Kuko twakomeje gusaba Paul Kagame ko yafungura imfungwa za politiki zirimo Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Deogratias Mushayidi, Theoneste Niyitegega, Padiri Eduwari Ntuliye, Padiri Mategeko Amatus n’abandi….ariko akica amatwi, dutangaje ko tutagikeneye kugirana ibiganiro na we;

5.Guverinoma y’u Rwanda ikorera mu buhungiro irahumuriza abenegihugu bose kandi irabizeza ko igiye gukorera ibishoboka byose kugira ngo mu gihe kitarenze amezi atandatu (6) hazabe habonetse inzira ikwiye yo kugamburuza « Agatsiko k’Abagizibanabi bitwaje imbunda »kaduhinduye twese nk’ingaruzwamuheto;

6.Turasaba Abenegihugu bose muri rusange na buriwese ku giti cye kwihutira gushyigikira mu nzira zose mushoboye Guverinoma yanyu ikorera mu buhungiro kugira umugambi mwiza wo kwibohoza ingoyi y’iterabwoba ry’Agatsiko ugerweho mu buryo bwihuse;

7.Turashimira abategetsi b’ibihugu by’incuti batugaragarije ko bahangayikishijwe n’uburiganya bwa Paul Kagame, bakaba batakimubonamo umukuru w’igihugu ukwiye kwemerwa no kwizerwa, ndetse bakaba biteguye gutera rubanda inkunga mu rugamba rwo kwishyiriraho ubutegetsi bushingiye kuri demukarasi nyakuri;

8.Turasaba umuryango mpuzamahanga gutera intambwe yo guha akato aka « Gatsiko k’Abagizibanabi bitwaje imbunda » no kugafatira ibihano bikakaye byo mu rwego rw ‘ubukungu, urwa politiki ,urwagisilikari n’urw’ubutabera mpuzamahanga  kugira ngo karekure ubutegetsi kibye rubanda, bityo hategurwe amatora y’umukuru w’igihugu adafifitse .

Bikorewe i Paris, taliki ya 10 /8/2017
Padiri Thomas Nahimana,
Perezida wa Guverinoma y’u Rwanda ikorera mu buhungiro

From Victim to Victimizer, Kagame’s Becoming a Not-So-Benevolent Authoritarian

170806-kagame-election-hero_b2zhgd

MR. 99 PERCENT

Elections are a mere ‘formality’ for Paul Kagame. He brought stability in the wake of atrocity, but does that make him any more a democrat, or any less an authoritarian?

“When the elections were announced in Kagame’s favor this weekend, world leaders—including those Americans and Britons who often sing his praises—were expected to rush to congratulate him. But as the State Department statement about voting irregularities made clear, even Washington is having its doubts. Now who will actually confront him over the deaths of so many thousands? Who will call him out as the dictator that he is?”

CALABAR, Nigeria—For decades, he has been sliding towardauthoritarianism, and his name has been synonymous with Africa’s bloodiest wars. Having put an end to one genocide, he has since shared responsibility for the death of hundreds of thousands of people.

Yet this man who helped force leaders of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo (which was then called Zaire) out of power, and now oppresses many of his own people, somehow manages to win the applause of the West.

Because Rwandans were the victims of horrendous massacres before he took over, he has sympathy; because his economy has prospered since, he has admiration. He has brought stability in the wake of atrocity, but does that make him any more a democrat, or any less a tyrant?

On Friday, in elections where the U.S. State Department said it was “disturbed by irregularities in the voting, Paul Kagame won a third seven-year term, this time with 99 percent of the suffrage. No wonder he said earlier that the polling was a “formality.”

One is hard pressed to think of any tyrants of recent vintage, from Fidel Castro to Saddam Hussein, who would claim such phenomenal numbers. (Close, yes, but not quite 99 percent.) Yet for years, Kagame has won effusive praise from the democratic West.

“I am clear, Rwanda has been, and continues to be, a success story of a country that has gone from genocide and disaster to being a role model for development and lifting people out of poverty in Africa,” said Britain’s then-Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking to the House of Commons in 2012. “I am proud of the fact that the last [British] Government, and this Government, have continued to invest in that success.” 

That’s the typical language Western leaders like to use to describe Rwanda under Kagame, especially when lavishing torrents of foreign aid on the tiny African nation. Yet Cameron’s comments came just after the United Nationsreleased a devastating report (PDF) that accused Rwanda of effectively masterminding a murderous rebellion in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which forced half a million people from their homes. Despite being aware of Kagame’s human rights atrocities, Cameron said it was “right” to continue pouring aid into his regime. And he isn’t the only leader to think highly of Kagame.

Tony Blair, who has made Rwanda the focus of the work of his charity, Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), referred to Kagame as a “visionary leader” and a friend. Bill Clinton once said he is “one of the greatest leaders of our time.” Bill Gates, who works with Kagame on various projects, says “Rwanda is doing something right.” Gates’s wife, Melinda, believes the country has “figured things out.” Even the U.N. has asked African nations to “emulate what Rwanda is doing.”

It doesn’t just end in praise. An estimated $1 billion is spent annually on foreign aid to Kagame’s government. The United States provides close to a fifth, followed by the U.K. which has so far this year given £64 million (about $84 million) in aid. Germany and the Netherlands give substantial aid to Rwanda as well.

One can run down a checklist of the good that Kagame has done, and it is considerable. His investment in agriculture in the last two decades has yielded positive returns. The country has had an annual growth rate of 8 percent since 2000, becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Tea and coffee exports are soaring, thanks to reforms in the agricultural sector. Life expectancy, literacy, primary school enrolment and spending on healthcare have all improved, partly due to foreign aid that often is used judiciously. Rwanda has succeeded in reducing poverty levels from 57 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2010, although 63 percent of the population still live in extreme poverty.

Rwanda has become, as well, the most female friendly nation in the world, especially in the area of politics. Close to 64 percent of parliamentarians are women compared to about 22 percent worldwide. Women are now able to own land and girls can inherit from their parents, which wasn’t the case some years back.

But the good that’s been done does not make the bad any less sinister. And often when things appear great in Rwanda, someone else is paying the price.

For instance, on the streets of the capital, Kigali, there are no beggars, no hawkers, and no prostitutes operating in the open. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kagame’s men have rounded them up and put them in “transit centers” where they are held without charge and beaten with sticks.

A new HRW report shows that officials summarily executed “at least 37 suspected petty offenders” in Rwanda’s Western Province between July 2016 and March 2017, as part of an official strategy to “spread fear, enforce order, and deter any resistance to government orders or policies.”

Executions were carried out by soldiers who accused the victims of stealing items like bananas, a cow, or a motorcycle; smuggling marijuana; illegally crossing the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Rwanda, or of using illegal fishing nets. Witnesses who saw the bodies soon after the executions told HRW that they saw bullet wounds and injuries that seemed to have been caused by beatings or stabbings. One victim had been stabbed in the heart; another had a cord around his neck.

“Instead of investigating the executions and disappearances and providing information or assistance to the families, local authorities threatened some who dared to ask questions,” reports Daniel Bekele, senior director for Africa advocacy at Human Rights Watch. “The government should focus on investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the crimes, and not allow a cover-up.”

HRW also found that residents followed orders from authorities to kill suspected thieves, and many were beaten to death. In public meetings, authorities reportedly declared that they were following “new orders” which called for the killing of thieves and other criminals.

Some of these killings were carried out in front of multiple witnesses, but they are rarely discussed in public. No local media outlets have reported about them, and local human rights groups are too afraid to publish any information on such issues due to the the strict restrictions on independent media and civil society in Rwanda. Even HRW, which revealed the atrocities, can’t operate freely in the country.

“We have a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Rwanda (through the Ministry of Justice), but we do not have an INGO (International Non-Governmental Organization) registration,” Lewis Mudge, HRW senior researcher focusing on Central Africa, told The Daily Beast. But he insists, “That has not affected our ability to enter the country to conduct research.”

Talk of extrajudicial killings in Rwanda should not come as a surprise to anyone, not even to liberal supporters of the regime. After all, President Kagame’s life has been full of wars, executions, oppression, and conspiracies.

When Paul Kagame was two years old, violence began in Rwanda between the Hutu and the Tutsi, two of the three major ethnic groups in the country. The conflict led to the Rwandan Revolution, which saw the country transition from a Belgian colony to an independent Hutu-dominated republic that was hostile to the Tutsi people, forcing more than 100,000 to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Kagame’s family fled to Uganda, where he spent the rest of his childhood.

At 24, Kagame joined a tiny group of Ugandan rebels led by Yoweri Museveni. Years later, he helped Museveni topple the government of Uganda. Museveni then became president (a position he has held now for 31 years), and Kagame was appointed his head of military intelligence. Kagame used that opportunity to build a network of Rwandan Tutsi refugees within the Ugandan military, with the eventual goal of invading Rwanda. Three years later, Museveni demoted Kagame after facing huge criticisms in Uganda over his appointment of Rwandan refugees to major positions in his government.

Kagame then joined forces with the rebel group Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to oust President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, whose regime was hostile to the Tutsi. When the leader of the group, Fred Rwigyema, was killed three days after the RPF began its uprising, Kagame—who was in the U.S. attending a course at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth—flew back to take charge.

Kagame’s RPF fought the government’s Hutu forces for three years until 1993 when a ceasefire was reached, but that didn’t last long as Hutu officers, plotted the extermination of every Tutsi in Rwanda. When a plane carrying Habyarimana, was shot down by unknown assassins in April 1994, a military committee that took immediate control of the country started right away murdering Tutsis and also Hutus who were opposed to the regime in what became the Rwandan Genocide. Within three months more than 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in coordinated attacks.

A year later, the genocide ended. Kagame had successfully taken thegénocidaires out of power and pushed them into Congo (then known as Zaire). When they regrouped and began to carry out little raids in Rwanda with the support of long-time Zaire dictator President Mobutu Sese Seko, Kagame responded by invading—pitching his tent with the newly created rebel group, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL)—aiming to oust Mobutu and install Kagame’s ally, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, as his successor. At the end of what was known as the First Congo War, about 222,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees were either killed or missing. The atrocities were blamed on the Rwandan Defense Forces and the ADFL, which were determined to eliminate any military threat to the Kagame government.

But a short time after Kabila took power from Mobutu, the new Congo leader fell out with Kagame, and—like Mobutu—began to support the génocidaires. This time, Kagame responded by throwing his weight behind a new rebel group, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD), and launching the Second Congo War in 1998. Within 12 days, the Rwandan-backed forces had made advances toward the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, and would probably have ousted Kabila but for the intervention of Angola and Zimbabwe.

Kabila eventually was killed in 2001 by a bodyguard, in what was reported in some quarters to be an assassination masterminded by Rwanda. Two years after his death, the conflict ended. At this time, between three million and 7.6 million people had lost their lives, mostly through starvation and disease,based on figures attributed to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Kagame has kept insisting he fought both wars in Congo to keep Rwanda safe, but he’s been accused in a number of reports of tapping the mineral resources of Congo and collecting taxes from companies licensed to mine minerals in the east of the country.

From the point of view of Rwandan security, Kagame’s strategy appears to have worked. He has not been involved in any foreign war since his country pulled out of Congo in 2009, but it’s hard to think that he doesn’t have a close eye on his neighbors, especially with elections at hand and external interference very likely.

Kagame was running for a third term as Rwandan president on Friday, August 4. He wouldn’t have been eligible, but a 2015 referendum that passed with 98.4 percent of the vote allows him to stay in power until 2034, if he keeps being elected—and so he was, with that implausible 99 percent. In the 2003 presidential elections, he racked up more than 95 percent of the vote. In 2010 he garnered 93 percent. No doubt he is very popular, still, among many Rwandans, but in virtually any other country in the world, such numbers would be considered risible measures of tyranny.

Despite not having a strong opposition, Kagame didn’t want to take chances. In May, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) published new regulations that required parties or individuals who wish to campaign on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, or other websites to submit the content for approval to the electoral body two days in advance. But a month later, the decision was reversed after the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, and the E.U. issued strong statements against the restrictions on social media.

Elsewhere, it appears Kagame may have done far worse than trying to stop free speech. His opponents have a way of meeting untimely ends at home and even when they flee abroad.

As documented by Amnesty International, one—who served as intelligence chief—was strangled in South Africa. Another—who served as cabinet minister—was assassinated in Kenya. Rwandan death squads allegedly have tried to infiltrate Europe. Criticisms can easily be interpreted as insults to the lanky leader, and Kagame wouldn’t accept any of that.

“The climate in which the upcoming elections take place is the culmination of years of repression,” Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said in the report last month, before Friday’s elections. “Rwanda’s history of political repression, attacks on opposition figures and dissenting voices in the context of previous elections, stifles political debate and makes those who might speak out think twice before taking the risk.”

When the elections were announced in Kagame’s favor this weekend, world leaders—including those Americans and Britons who often sing his praises—were expected to rush to congratulate him. But as the State Department statement about voting irregularities made clear, even Washington is having its doubts. Now who will actually confront him over the deaths of so many thousands? Who will call him out as the dictator that he is?

Source: The Daily Beast

Our african friend, the mass murderer

mass muderer

A bad man (THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

“It is high time for a fundamental rethinking of U.S. relations with Rwanda’s leader. Military and diplomatic collaboration should halt. Kagame should be banned from entering the United States or participating in international fora. Humanitarian aid should continue, but other assistance should be curtailed now until he leaves office”.

Maybe we shouldn’t care that Rwanda’s recently reelected president is a mass murderer.

After all, he has become a reliable partner, who welcomes U.S. investors, improves public health, and sends peacekeeping forces to hellholes where we won’t, like Darfur.

Admittedly, he jails or kills his political opponents, but that eliminates the destabilizing uncertainty of elections.

Yes, he modified his country’s constitution to allow him to rule for up to 40 years, until 2034, but who expects true democracy in that part of the world anyway?

Of course, it’s unfortunate that his ethnic Tutsi minority holds all key positions in Rwanda, repressing the overwhelming majority ethnic Hutu in a black-on-black version of apartheid, but some Hutu committed genocide in 1994, and so their children and grandchildren must be denied basic rights.

Call me a grudge-holder, but I just can’t forgive and forget that Paul Kagame ordered the killing of approximately 350,000 ethnic Hutu, in Rwanda and Congo, in the 1990s. This puts him in the pantheon of post-WWII murderers, alongside Pol Pot and Idi Amin.

Is there a statute of limitation for genocide? Should subsequent good deeds be exculpatory? By treating him as a valued ally, do we dishonor his victims? Do we violate the Genocide Convention? Do we encourage repetition of such crimes?

For the uninitiated, here’s Kagame’s abridged rap sheet. Starting in 1990, he led a Tutsi invasion of Rwanda that displaced a million civilians and knowingly provoked the retaliatory carnage for which Rwanda is most famous.

In 1994, as his forces seized control of Rwanda, they slaughtered an estimated 100,000 Hutu civilians. After many surviving Hutu fled to Congo, he pursued them in 1996, murdering another 200,000. When remaining domestic Hutu resisted his ethnic dictatorship in 1998, he ordered a brutal counterinsurgency that killed 50,000 more.

The only thing more despicable than the magnitude of this killing was its tactics. Kagame typically started by chasing Hutu civilians into harsh territory. As his victims confronted starvation and hunger, his officials would come forward with offers of humanitarian aid.

Gradually, the displaced would trickle in for food and water. When the desperate Hutu had fully assembled, his troops opened fire and killed them all. For more gruesome details, see authoritative reports by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.

Why do we treat war criminals so disparately? In Libya, Muammar Khaddafy’s forces killed barely 1,000 people in February 2011, including armed opponents, according to judicial investigations. This equates to approximately one-third of one percent of Kagame’s victims.

Yet in response, the International Criminal Court indicted Khaddafy for war crimes, and NATO led an intervention that bombed his forces and assisted his rebel opponents until they captured, sodomized, and executed him. By contrast, Kagame is rewarded with honorary degrees and hundreds of millions in annual foreign aid.

I am not a naïf. I accept that world politics sometimes requires deals with the devil as the lesser evil. Perhaps it is understandable that Washington embraced Kagame in 1994 despite his crimes, in hopes of stabilizing a post-genocide situation.

But such exigency disappeared long ago. Kagame has proved anything but a force for stability. He invaded Congo twice, spurring wars that resulted in an estimated 5 million fatalities. He continues to undermine democracy by hunting opponents and overriding term limits. Most perilously, he marginalizes Rwanda’s Hutu majority, brewing the next eruption of ethnic violence.

It is high time for a fundamental rethinking of U.S. relations with Rwanda’s leader. Military and diplomatic collaboration should halt. Kagame should be banned from entering the United States or participating in international fora. Humanitarian aid should continue, but other assistance should be curtailed now until he leaves office.

A hardline stance would also send a salutary message to the region’s other aspiring presidents-for-life: Our indulgence has limits.

Isolating Kagame will not by itself resolve the problems of Rwanda or its neighbors. But there can be little hope for peace or justice in central Africa so long as we embrace its worst war criminal.

Kuperman is associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.

Source: New York Daily News

Rwanda : meurtres, répression… le système Kagamé

Paul-Kagame-

Les Rwandais sont appelés aux urnes pour élire leur président… ou plutôt réélire Paul Kagamé, en place depuis 2000.

Les bureaux de vote ouvrent, vendredi 4 août, à Kigali au Rwanda et dans tout le pays. Ils vont attendre patiemment que les électeurs s’y pressent pour réélire le président sortant Paul Kagamé, pour un troisième mandat, qu’il a annoncé comme son dernier en mai. Le suspense n’est, en effet, pas de mise. Seuls deux opposants politiques ont été reconnus candidats officiels : Frank Habineza pour le Parti démocratique vert (PVD) et Philippe Mpayimana, candidat indépendant.

Pour les autres, la Commission électorale nationale les a écartés ou alors ils ont été victimes de campagnes de diffamation et de menaces. Mais finalement peu importe les opposants et leur nombre pour Paul Kagamé, qui répète à l’envi que l’élection est jouée depuis le référendum du 15 décembre 2015. Celui-ci l’a autorisé à se représenter jusqu’en 2034, avec 98,3% des voix. Un score impressionnant dans un pays connu pour sa répression politique.

Campagnes d’intimidation et menaces

Seuls deux opposants politiques ont donc réussi à braver les obstacles et à se faire reconnaître comme candidats officiels pour cette élection présidentielle. D’autres candidats en ont été empêchés. Le 3 mai dernier, Diane Rwigara par exemple a annoncé qu’elle se présenterait en tant que candidate indépendante. Dans les mois précédents, elle avait dénoncé publiquement la pauvreté, l’injustice, l’insécurité et l’absence de liberté d’expression au Rwanda. Une attaque directe envers le pouvoir. Quelques jours seulement après l’annonce de sa candidature, cette fille d’un financier du Front patriotique rwandais (FPR), parti de Paul Kagamé, mort dans des circonstances troubles, a fait l’objet d’une campagne de diffamation. Des photos où elle apparaissait dénudée ont circulé sur les réseaux sociaux. Elle et Philippe Mpayimana se sont également plaints que leurs représentants avaient été victimes de harcèlement et de manœuvres d’intimidation pendant qu’ils recueillaient les signatures nécessaires à la validation des candidatures.

Pour contrer cette répression, certains opposants vivent à l’étranger, comme l’abbé Thomas Nahimana. Ce candidat déclaré s’est pourtant vu plusieurs fois empêché de revenir d’exil. Même à l’étranger, il est donc difficile d’échapper à Kagamé. L’ancien chef des services de renseignements, Patrick KAREGEYA, a ainsi été retrouvé étranglé dans une chambre d’hôtel d’Afrique du Sud en 2014.

Deux décennies de répression politique

Deux décennies d’attaques contre les opposants politiques, les médias indépendants et les défenseurs des droits humains ont créé un climat de peur au Rwanda. C’est ce que dénonce Amnesty International, dans un rapport publié vendredi 7 juillet. L’ONG a donc décidé d’alerter sur le manque évident d’opposition politique et sur les dérives répressives du pouvoir.

Parmi les cas cités par le rapport, on trouve l’assassinat en mai de Jean Damascene Habarugira, un membre du parti non reconnu des Forces démocratiques unifiées (FDU), présidé par l’opposante Victoire Ingabire. Cette dernière a été condamnée en 2010 à quinze ans de détention pour “minimisation du génocide”.

“Depuis que le FPR est arrivé au pouvoir, il y a vingt-trois ans, il est difficile pour les Rwandais de participer à la vie publique et de critiquer ouvertement les politiques gouvernementales ; certains le paient même de leur vie”, a déclaré Muthoni Wanyeki, directrice du programme Afrique de l’Est, Corne de l’Afrique et Grands Lacs à Amnesty International.

Dans son rapport, Amnesty international exhorte donc l’Etat rwandais à entreprendre des réformes ambitieuses qui élargiront l’espace politique avant l’élection de 2024. Ce qui permettrait un débat véritable et l’expression d’opinions politiques diverses. Un travail de fond sur la liberté d’expression doit notamment être entrepris.

Répression médiatique

La liberté d’expression, c’est justement ce dont manquent les médias, fortement réprimés. Depuis des années, des journalistes sont emprisonnés, harcelés, parfois tués, et beaucoup ont été contraints à l’exil. En 2010, les journaux indépendants “Umuvugizi” et “Umuseso” ont été suspendus de parution pour avoir critiqué le régime, en pleine campagne électorale de réélection. Jean-Léonard Rugambage, alors rédacteur en chef adjoint del “Umuvugizi”, a été tué par balle à Kigali en 2010, alors qu’il enquêtait sur une tentative d’assassinat contre le général Kayumba Nyamwasa, passé dans l’opposition. En 2015, c’est le service rwandais de la BBC qui a été bloqué, l’un des seuls médias à délivrer une information indépendante. En 2016, au moins trois journalistes ont été arrêtés après avoir enquêté sur des sujets sensibles, comme la corruption et les morts suspectes.

Dans son rapport, Amnesty International invite le gouvernement à créer un mécanisme juridique pour enquêter sur les violations des droits de l’homme. Un défi, tant que Paul Kagamé reste au pouvoir.

Un bilan contrasté

Malgré l’utilisation d’un régime répressif toujours plus violent pour se maintenir en place, Paul Kagamé possède un bilan jugé positif sur le plan économique : croissance de 7 %, population couverte à 91 % par l’assurance-maladie, politiques efficaces de lutte contre la corruption. Ce qui corroborerait pour certains la popularité “indéniable” du président. Paul Kagamé, à la tête du Front patriotique rwandais, a contribué à mettre fin au génocide qui a fait plus de 800.000 morts 1994. “The Boss” comme on l’appelle à Kigali, a toujours été élu avec plus de 90 % des voix, dans ce pays de 11,5 millions d’habitants.

Mais la répression en vigueur va une fois encore empêcher de connaître la vraie valeur de ce vote : vote d’adhésion, de peur ou de dépit ?

Justine Benoit

Source: L’OBS

‘Rwanda is like a pretty girl with a lot of makeup, but the inside is dark and dirty’

Diane Rwigara

Diane Rwigara asks to postpone the interview. “My personal adviser is missing,” explains the text message. This is the new normal for Rwigara, who was until recently a loyal scion of Rwanda’s ruling elite.

Since the death of her father in 2015, the 35-year-old businesswoman has become a fierce critic of Paul Kagame, the country’s all-powerful president, and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

In May she announced her intention to run against him in the country’s electionon 4 August. For this, she has paid a heavy price.

In her grand, heavily fortified home in the heart of Kigali, the Rwandan capital, the interview goes ahead after her adviser – a close friend – turns up safe.

“He didn’t come home last night,” she explains. A stranger had called the night before and asked him to come for a drink. “He said he could give him some publicity for his newspaper. And you know how it is here: if you’re not part of the government, it’s hard to get publicity.”

He woke up the next day in a hotel room, his phone missing, remembering nothing from the previous night. “I’m used to it,” Rwigara says. Her best friend disappeared last December after she started speaking out against Kagame and the RPF. He has still not reappeared. “That’s life here. I’m just happy this one came back.”

Rwigara’s presidential bid was stillborn. On 7 July the National Electoral Commission barred her from standing on technical grounds, a move that came as little surprise to most. Kagame has ruled the country with an iron fist since sweeping to power after the genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi minority in 1994. Criticism is barely tolerated, and the history of the past 15 or so years is littered with the names of opponents silenced and dissenters muzzled. To that list Rwigara adds her father, a prominent Tutsi businessman known to have been close to the RPF, at least early on.

“He was targeted because he did not want to continue to do business as usual,” she says. “If you have successful business, the RPF has to be part of it – and eventually get you out. But he did not want to let them in; he did not want to end up working for them. And he did not want to flee the country, though they did all they could to make him. So they had no choice.”

The US-educated Rwigara publicly accused the government of foul play after her father died in a road accident, contacting foreign embassies in Kigali and international human rights organisations, as well as petitioning the president. Many question the allegation, but there has been no official investigation. It is the family’s word against that of the police.

Rwigara’s thwarted candidacy was a brief flash of colour in the otherwise drab landscape of contemporary Rwandan politics. Kagame’s re-election is so certain that he himself claimed victory on the first day of campaigning, citing the overwhelming verdict of a controversial constitutional referendum in 2015 that permitted him to stand for a third term.

The proposed changes passed with a thumping 98% majority. “Pretending not to know the will expressed by the people during the referendum would be a lie, not democracy,” he told cheering crowds at a rally.

But Rwigara exposed cracks in the RPF’s confident facade. Most doubt that she would have been a significant electoral threat, but the lengths to which the authorities went to frustrate her – she claims her supporters were repeatedly threatened, beaten and jailed as they toured the country drumming up support – suggested a nervousness that belied Kagame’s breezy rhetoric.

“The RPF are scared,” Rwigara says. “If they are loved by the people, as they claim, why is that when someone like me announces an intention to run they resort to all these dirty tricks to try to discourage me and silence me? If they were really popular, then they would have let me compete.”

Many in Kigali agree. “Every week that she is not in trouble is progress,” confides one foreign diplomat. “She, not the official opposition, is the ultimate test for them.”

Rwigara represents young, prosperous urbanites who grew up under the RPF and whom it sees as essential to the country’s future. The busloads of young Rwandans who arrived to watch her announce her candidacy, and her packed press conferences, unnerved Kagame and his allies, according to insiders. Nude photos, apparently of her, soon flooded the internet – assumed to be a well-orchestrated smear.

She believes her fearlessness in speaking out is a headache for the RPF, which fastidiously cultivates a rosy image of Rwanda for the outside world. “Rwanda is like a very pretty girl with a lot of makeup,” she says. “Perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect everything. They spend so much time on the image because they know the inside is dark and dirty.”

Since her candidacy failed, Rwigara has launched what she calls a “movement” to challenge the regime on its human rights record. While her political awakening could be attributed to her father’s death, she makes allegations that go beyond personal grievance. Nobody else inside Rwanda has spoken more frankly about the extrajudicial assassinations that exiled critics and international organisations such as Human Rights Watch claim the government frequently carries out against its enemies.

“Everybody knows somebody who has disappeared, who has been killed,” Rwigara says. “The personal doctor of the president and an army major both died in the same week as my father. And those are the well-known people. You don’t hear about the other people.”

Yet she is also a former insider, and her candidacy could be seen as evidence of emerging fractures within the Tutsi elite who dominate politics and business. The government has made enemies of some of its natural supporters, such as the Rwigara family. After her father’s death, the family’s properties in central Kigali were seized and their hotel demolished.

Diane Rwigara gives a press conference after announcing her plans to run for president
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Diane Rwigara gives a press conference in May after announcing her plans to run for president. She was later barred on a technicality. Photograph: Cyril Ndegeya/AFP/Getty Images

If she makes an unlikely spokesperson for the poor farmers who make up the majority of Rwandans, she may be more persuasive as an advocate for women. Kagame is something of a “donor darling” for his commitment to gender equality – half of the supreme court judges are women, and the country’s parliament is 61% female, the highest proportion in the world – but Rwigara dismisses such headline achievements as window-dressing.

“So what if Rwanda has the highest percentage of women in parliament? It’s really just part of the image. Because what do these women do?” she asks.

She says the parliament is little more than a rubber-stamp. There are women in senior positions in government, but none wield real power. And despite its impressive strides, academics have questioned the substance of Rwanda’s gender-equality drive, especially for unmarried women.

“Diane took big risks just being a woman in Rwandan politics – Rwanda is just not ready for that,” says Susan Thomson, assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Colgate University in the US, adding that the “the way the government sexualised her with those nude photos was frankly disgusting”. But she and others have also noted that it is precisely women like Rwigara – wealthy, predominantly Tutsi, often English-speaking – who have benefited most from the RPF’s empowerment measures.

Rwigara doesn’t see her gender as a hindrance. “They used my being a woman to get to me,” she says. “But even if I’d been a man they’d have found other ways.” In fact, it was her family that had the problem with the idea of women in politics. “Growing up I remember my family members – my mum and my aunt – saying that a girl should not have a political opinion; that a girl should not be politically active. It took me a while to make peace with being a girl who likes politics.”

Is Rwanda ready for a female president? “I think Rwandans themselves are,” she answers. “Because if the regime thought the people would not listen to me because I’m a woman, then they would not have tried to find all these ways to stop me.”

She says she doesn’t fear for her life. “Not for the moment. They know killing me will make too much noise. It’s harder to kill you once you are known, once you’ve been seen.”

Source: The Guardian

Umunyagitugu Paul KAGAME acyuye igihe. Ni iki kitezwe muri politiki y’u Rwanda ?

kagame

Guhera tariki ya 05 /08/2017 Paul Kagame waranzwe no gutegekana igitugu guhera mu mwaka wa 1994 azaba atakiri Perezida wa Repubulika y’u Rwanda. Itegekonshinga yarahiriyeho ryamwemereraga kugeza kuri manda ebyiri gusa kuko nta narimwe umuntu yemererwa kuyobora manda zirenze izo. Umunyagitugu abonye manda ebyiri zirangiye yashatse gukora itekinika ngo itegekonshinga rihindurwe bityo yemererwe kwiyamamaza indi nshuro. Cyakora na nyuma ya referendumu ififitse, Paul Kagame ntiyemerewe kwiyamamaza. Abaza gusoma ibi baribaza bati none se ko tumaze minsi tubona Kagame yiyamamaza, ubwo si uko abyemerewe?

Igisubizo kuri iki kibazo kigaragararira mu gisobanuro, imyitwarire n’imikorere y’umunyagitugu. Kagame nk’umunyagitugu wakuye agahu ku nnyo ntakeneye itegeko iryo ariryo ryose ngo yiyamamaze. Ni umunyagitugu utagendera ku mategeko. Kuri we amategeko icyo amaze ni ukwiyerekana mu rubuga mpuzamahanga ariko mu by’ukuri igifite agaciro ni amabwiriza we yishyiriraho ngo agere kubyo ashatse. None se Abanyapolitiki ntibafungwa mu Rwanda kandi itegekonshinga ribemerara gukora umurimo wa politiki? Kwandikisha amashyaka atavuga rumwe na FPR se ntibyabaye ikibazo kandi nyamara u Rwanda rwemera amashyaka menshi? Abaharanira uburenganzira bw’ikiremwamuntu se bo basiba guhungetwa kandi nyamara u Rwanda rwarasinye amasezerano mpuzamahanga agena uburenganzira bw’amashyirahamwe guhera mu mwaka wa 1975? Abantu se birirwa bicwa buri munsi kandi nyamara igihano cy’urupfu kitaravanyweho mu mategeko y’u Rwanda? Kagame ntacyo amategeko amubwiye we ashaka kwigumanira ubutegetsi ngo akomeze ahonyore abenegihugu uko yishakiye ari nako akomeza kwikubira ibyiza by’igihugu. Na manda Paul KAGAME azategeka guhera ku itariki ya 05/08/2017 ntizaba yemewe n’amategeko niyo mpamvu azaba ari umuperezida utemewe, ufite ubutegetsi butemewe, bugomba gusimburwa vuba na bwangu.

Ni iki kitezwe muri iyi manda ?

  1. Mu rubuga mpuzamahanga: Kagame azaba yamaze guta ibara yitwa umunyagitugu nk’abandi bose, umujura, umunyakinyoma ndetse na bya byaha bye benshi bajyaga batinya kuvuga bazabigarukaho. Bya bigwi n’imidari yajyaga yambikwa ngo yahagaritse jenoside bizahagarara kuko iyo umuntu akoze ibyiza akabirenzaho ibibi byose biba bibi gusa. Niko isi ikora, ni nako tuyibamo.

Cyakora kubera ko Paul Kagame yaryohewe n’ibyo yabonye, azatanga amafranga y’umurengera agure abanyamakuru n’ibigo bikomeye kugira ngo bigerageze kwerekana ko isura ye itari mbi nk’uko igaragara! Hari ibintu bimwe na bimwe batazashobora gukiza Kagame : Nko kuba atihanganira abatavuga rumwe n’ubutegetsi bwe ntazashobora kubihindura. Kuba mu myaka amaze ku butegetsi atarashoboye kureka ngo abandi bagaragaze impano zabo mu miyoborere ntazapfa kubishobora ngo nibura afungure imfungwa za demokarasi Ingabire Victoire, Deo Mushayidi n’abandi. Kuba mu bo batangiranye umugambi benshi baramucitseho bizakomeza kumwokama.

Kagame azakomeza kugerageza kwiyegereza abahutu b’inkomamashyi agamije kugaragaza ko atavangura ariko ntazashyiraho chef d’état-major cyangwa ministiri w’ingabo utari uwo muri FPR. Abatutsi batinyuka kwamagana politiki ya Kagame nka Kizito Mihigo na Diane Rwigara bazakomeza kwitwa abanzi b’igihugu.

  1. Mu rubuga rwa politiki nyarwanda: Abaturage bazakomeza guceceka ngo bategereje ko Imana izabakuriraho Kagame. Amashyaka ya opozisiyo akorera hanze azakomeza kwamagana ubutegetsi bwa Kagame ariko arasabwa gushaka udushya. Abalideri bazakomeza kuba bakeya ndetse abazifuza kuva mu mahanga ngo batashye mu Rwanda gufatanya na rubanda Kagame ntazabemerera. Guverinoma y’u Rwanda ikorera mu buhungiro izarushaho kumvikanisha ibibazo by’u Rwanda ari nako yotsa igitutu ubutegetsi bw’umunyagitugu ngo bwemere gufungura urubuga rwa politiki. Urukiko Mpanabyaha rwa Rubanda rwashyizweho na rubanda ruzakira ibirego rukore kandi ruburanishe amadosiye y’abayobozi bakekwaho ibyaha bya jenoside, ibyibasiye inyokomuntu n’ibyaha by’intambara. Ibihano bazabahwa bizashyikirizwa ibihugu n’umuryango mpuzamahanga kugira ngo aba bantu bafatirwe ibihano. Abazaba bahamwe n’ibyo byaha bazagira ibibazo mu kubona visa zo kwinjira mu bindi bihugu, imitungo yabo iri hanze izafatirwa, kandi ntibazemererwa ubuhungiro mu gihe bazaba babusabye. Uzagerageza gusohoka azafatwa maze ashyirwe aho agomba kurangiriza ibihano. Abitwaje intwaro barwanya Kagame bazaba bafite impamvu yo kugaba ibitero ariko imbaraga zabo zizakomeza kuba nkeya ku mpamvu nyinshi zitandukanye. Ku ruhande rwa APR, abasirikare benshi batangiye urugamba rwa 1990 bazaba bageze mu gihe cy’iza bukuru, bityo Kagame azajya yirukana uwo ashatse yitwaje ibyo.

Ubutegetsi bwa Kagame buzaba butemewe ariko nta munyamahanga uzabukuraho uretse kubuvuga nabi. Abemera iby’ubuhanuzi n’indagu bahamya ko Kgame atazabasha gutegeka iyi myka irindwi igiye kuza, cyakora umupira uri mu kibuga cy’abanyarwanda ubwacu. Turasabwa gukora ibirushije ubukana ibyo twakoraga mbere, gufata ibyemezo bisharira no kwirinda utunyungu tw’abantu ku giti cyabo.

Biracyaza…

Rwanda’s Forever President

kagame-fpr-bureau-politiqueANTWERP, Belgium — There is an election in Rwanda on Friday, but its outcome already is nearly certain: President Paul Kagame will win a third seven-year term. Elections there are not a contest for power. They are the ritual confirmation of the power in place.

Mr. Kagame generally wins by margins that would make a dictator proud: In 2010, he scored some 93 percent of the vote. He is the only ruler most Rwandans born since the 1994 genocide know. The Rwandans who remember leaders before him have reason to wonder if they will ever see another: The state’s mighty security apparatus is quietly eloquent, with all those soldiers and police officers routinely patrolling both city streets and the countryside.

Mr. Kagame is up against two innocuous candidates after the national election commission disqualified Diane Rwigara, his strongest opponent, and two other independent contenders. The opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, who was placed under house arrest in the lead-up to the 2010 election, is now in jail serving a dubious 15-year sentence for threatening state security, among other things. Journalists have also been intimidated and stifled; Freedom House categorizes Rwanda as “not free.”

Mr. Kagame wasn’t supposed to run this time because he would be coming up against the two-term limit set by the Constitution. But in 2015 the government proposed an amendment and had it sanctioned in a referendum (roundly criticized by human rights groups), opening the way for Mr. Kagame to stand for re-election this year — and again until 2034.

Burundi was condemned internationally in 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza flouted term limits to run for a third mandate. Last year, President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo skirted term restrictions by simply delaying the next election, triggering protests and then a crackdown that led to sanctions against his government. Yet nothing of the sort has happened to Mr. Kagame or his administration despite its ploys to keep him in power basically unchallenged.

Why? Because Mr. Kagame has been masterful at deflecting criticism of his illiberalism by pointing to Rwanda’s economic performance. The country is touted as a model: The government claims that the economy grew by an average of about 8 percent a year between 2001 and 2014, and that the rate of poverty dropped from nearly 57 percent in 2006 to less than 40 percent in 2014. Neither Mr. Nkurunziza nor Mr. Kabila could proffer such results.

Mr. Kagame’s supporters, in Rwanda and beyond, sing to his tune. In a way, they have to. Western donors and international organizations may well prefer democratic values to big-man politics. But having poured great sums of money into Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, they want to be impressed by the headway Mr. Kagame claims to have made — on economic growth and poverty reduction, but also maternal health care and the prosecution of suspected mass killers. Asia has tigers; now Africa has found its lion. Many want to believe that while Mr. Kagame may have been cutting corners on democracy, he has delivered on development.

Has he, though?

In fact, his government’s record is shakier than it looks, including on some of the major achievements it is credited with.

Consider poverty reduction. Back in 2005, I was stationed in Rwanda with a World Bank team, working on a large-scale study of poverty. Six months into it, after we had collected hundreds of survey questionnaires about the well-being of ordinary Rwandans and conducted hundreds of discussions with villagers, the Rwandan security forces seized half of our files on the pretext that our research’s design was tainted by “genocide ideology” — a vague notion supposedly something like sectarianism that the government often invokes to criminalize what it sees as challenges to its authority. After lengthy negotiations between World Bank and Rwandan officials, the project was abandoned. We never determined what the poverty trends were: The information we had collected was destroyed before it could be analyzed.

Matters have hardly improved. Major studies can only be carried out by the Rwandan authorities or under their close supervision. Independent researchers have come to question the government’s methodology for analyzing data.

Officially, the poverty rate decreased by nearly 6 percentage points between 2011 and 2014. But Filip Reyntjens, a Rwanda expert at the University of Antwerp, has argued that it might actually have increased by about 6 percentage points during that period. Several articles published by the Review of African Political Economy also challenge Rwanda’s official poverty figures, as well as its G.D.P. growth rates.

I’m of the view that expanding individual freedoms is essential, not incidental, to a country’s long-term development. As Angus Deaton, a Nobel laureate in economics, said to a Rwandan minister in 2015, “improvements in public health can never be truly secure in nondemocratic states.” But I concede that Rwanda has made remarkable economic progress since facing near-total destruction in 1994, and that some think it is still worth debating the merits of trade-offs between democracy and development.

Whatever one thinks of these issues, however, everyone should be concerned that the Kagame government has been fudging, hiding or selectively presenting the raw facts of its economic record. Rwanda may be forgoing democracy for development only to wind up with no democracy and far less development than many think.

Don’t be fooled by those happy campaign rallies. Rwandans live in fear.

Kagame rally Gakenke

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, left, greets a crowd of supporters as he arrives for a campaign rally on Monday in Gakenke. (Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images)

By Fred MUVUNYI

Fred Muvunyi, a former chairman of the Rwanda Media Commission, is an editor at Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

On Friday, Rwandan voters will go to the polls and overwhelmingly reelect Paul Kagame as their president. Kagame himself has said that the result is a foregone conclusion. So where does he get his remarkable self-confidence?

One important clue comes from campaign rallies. Thousands of people, joyously singing and dancing, routinely flock to events staged for the incumbent president by the ruling party. There are two other officially allowed candidates, but almost no one shows up to see them speak.

The stark difference is easily explained. Show up at an opposition rally and you can bet that the authorities will note your presence. Attendance at Kagame’s events, by contrast, is expected — since the president has given orders to all local officials to ensure turnout. The key, in both cases, is one simple word: fear. Anyone who doesn’t show loyalty to Kagame is considered to be “an enemy of the state.”

The supporters of the regime sneer at those who claim that Kagame’s popular support is buttressed by intimidation. The president, they say, is genuinely loved by Rwandans for his success in bringing economic growth, reliable health care and a relatively fair court system, all while reducing corruption to levels many other countries would envy. Plus, through sheer force of personality, he has managed to unite the country after the horrific genocide of 1994, in which close to a million Rwandans — overwhelmingly members of the Tutsi minority — were slaughtered in just 100 days.

Kagame’s positive achievements are genuine. But they can also be seen as the more palatable side of an all-encompassing system of social control that knows few equals in the world. Rwanda’s government, led by Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), is a finely meshed organization that reaches down into the smallest villages. Local government officials maintain detailed files on every household, and a dense network of informers keeps track of citizens’ behavior and thinking. Visiting foreigners are rarely aware of this reality, but Rwandans know it well. People from my country often use an idiom in our native language of Kinyarwanda that captures it well: “Even the trees are listening,” they say.

Rwanda has a long history of intrusive government, but it is the experience of genocide — which was finally brought to an end by the invading RPF, then an insurgent group based in neighboring countries — that has given birth to what can only be described as a form of institutionalized paranoia. Kagame and his comrades in the Tutsi-dominated RPF are only too aware that many members of the majority Hutus were once active participants in mass murder. As a result, the current government tends to view any attempt to question the existing system as subversion at best, and often as a first step to a new genocidal conspiracy at worst.

This mentality is reinforced by Kagame’s own background as a former military intelligence officer and rebel leader. During his long years in Ugandan exile, he knew that he and his party would never be able to come to power by peaceful means, and events bore that prediction out. For him, “constructive opposition” is a contradiction in terms. To Kagame and his entourage, criticism always entails a security threat.

Kagame has correspondingly tightened his control of the armed forces. Today, the most respected and outspoken military officers are in prison, exile or dead. To name but one of the most recent examples, Patrick Karegeya, Rwanda’s former intelligence chief, was killed in South African exile on Jan. 1, 2014.

But this grim fate is not restricted to former military men. Journalists, independent businessmen and members of the opposition have all faced various degrees of state-sponsored terror. They range from Charles Ingabire, a reporter who was shot to death in Uganda in 2011, to Pasteur Bizimungu, Kagame’s predecessor as president, who stepped down in 2000, and was later arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of embezzlement, inciting ethnic hatred and attempting to form a militia. His defenders say that his real crime was attempting to form his own opposition party. When Rwandans see what can happen to people who once enjoyed power and prestige, they rightly conclude that they are better off keeping their mouths shut.

In 2012, three years before I was forced to leave for an exile of my own, I had the privilege to pay a visit in prison to Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. In 2010, Ingabire, an outspoken and eloquent woman, had returned to Rwanda from the Netherlands, where she had lived for the previous 17 years, to challenge Kagame. But, as she told me in a voice strikingly subdued, she had failed to reckon with the nature of the Rwandan regime. After four months in Kigali, she was thrown in jail, where she remains today.

Kagame is smart. He knows how to turn his country’s dark history to his own advantage. When westerners try to criticize him for his failure to uphold human rights, Kagame points out that their countries either failed to prevent the genocide or actively abetted it, skillfully using their own feelings of guilt to silence them. So far it’s been a highly effective strategy. But that doesn’t change the reality that Rwanda is a country where fear reigns supreme.

Source: Washington Post