Rwanda President Paul Kagame joined the detestable 99% club, ironically on July 14, 2015.


On July,1789 – exactly 226 ago, French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, the royal fortress that symbolized the tyranny of monarchical rule. July 14, 1789 was therefore the beginning of the French Revolution, which subsequently led to Republicanism, after the overthrow of Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

July 14, 2015, saw Rwanda moving in the opposite direction – namely, the beginning of the crowning of Kagame. Rwandan parliamentarians voted by 99% for removing term limits in Rwandan constitution to allow Kagame to grab and cling onto power. Kagame has been indirectly and directly Rwandan head of state since 1994 to present – 21 years.

The July 14 vote officially makes Kagame a member of a despicable club – dictators who manipulate electoral processes to supposedly “win” by between 99% and 100%.

Here are other members of the 99% club:

• With no one else on the ballot, North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected by 100% margin in March 2014, he also won with the unanimous approval of his district, which incredibly had 100% turnout.

• Kim Jong Un did better than his father Kim Jong II who won re-election with 99.9% of the vote in March 2009.

• Saddam Hussein was the only candidate when in October 2002 he won 100% backing in a referendum on whether or not he should rule for another seven years.

• The Soviet Union’s Communist Party won 100% in every legislative election until 1984.

• Presidential elections held in Turkmenistan in June 1992 saw the only candidate, incumbent President Saparmurat Niyazov, winning by 99.5% with voter turnout of 99.8%.

• The 99 percent club includes the Castro brothers in Cuba – in January 2008, Raul won elections by 99.7%. The best his elder brother Castro ever achieved was 99.1%.

• Rwandan dictator Juvenal Habyarimana increased his vote from 98.99% in December 1978; to 99.97% in December 1983; and to 99.98% in December 1988.

So what is to expect from Kagame now? He will win the referendum by 100% to remove term limits, and rule Rwanda for life – or so he hopes. But history has a habit of surprising even the most confident dictators. All one needs to do is to revisit history since the Roman times, to confirm the fact that dictatorial regimes, regarded as powerful, do sooner or later collapse from all kinds of contradictions. Kagame’s totalitarian state is no exception.

Dr David Himbara