January 23rd, 2017: Father Nahimana second attempt to return to Rwanda

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Thomas Nahimana

As the interested public remembers, the Rwandan government forced Father Thomas Nahimana and his delegation representing the political party Ishema to spend three days in Nairobi at Kenyatta International airport. They got stranded waiting to know if authorities in Kigali would grant them authorisation to return home. This was from November 23rd onwards.

For the sake of good relations between Rwanda and Kenya as countries, Nahimana and his team had to end their strike only after a few days. It is worth highlighting that these were Rwandans being publicly prohibited to enter their own country. At a different time of Rwandan history, let’s remember that exiled Tutsis claimed, back at the end of the 80s, that they had been denied returning to their country and took arms to invade Rwanda from Uganda in October 1990.

Back to Ishema party. After the surprise forced standoff, Nahimana is planning (“imbokoboko” = without weaponry) to go back to Rwanda on January 23rd, 2017. Certainly he wants to be in Rwanda on time, in order to meet the deadline which demands from anyone planning to become a presidential candidate to have been living in the country for at least the last six months prior the elections. The Rwandan government announced that these elections were scheduled to take place on August 4th, 2017.

During the last couple of days, president Kagame has made publicly several references to the Nairobi incident, brushing away any direct responsibilities he might’ve had in Nahimana unfortunate journey. Everyone surely knows this to be a complete lie since the Rwandan leader follows closely significant aspects of his citizens’ political life, particularly those with intentions of removing him from power.

In a public press release put out on December 15th, Ishema party announces its determination to go back to Rwanda, enrol on the list of legal political parties and participate in upcoming presidential elections and those for members of parliament planned for 2018. The announcement seeks as well the support of the international community, to put pressure on Kagame’s government to open up the political space and free political prisoners.

The questions on the mind of many, Rwandans and foreigners, are these: Will this time president Kagame let Nahimana get back home? If he lets him in, will he imprison him immediately as he did with Victoire Ingabire back in 2010? What will the reaction of Rwandans and the international community be? I presume his strategists are assessing all these scenarii, looking at which ones are less damaging for the RPF regime and preparing for counter-measures in each case.

The timebomb is ticking. In Rwanda, there are presently protests caused by starvation: people are gathering at government buildings in different parts of the country seeking help because they are hungry; harassment against farmers has been increasing in recent days, particularly in the Western province; extrajudicial killings are reported across regions. And all this is happening while the ruling RPF is portraying Rwanda as a paradise on earth that the world is missing out to experience.

As former US president Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Time comes when it catches up with you.

Ambrose Nzeyimana

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