In her remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Prevention and Resolution of Conflicts in the Great Lakes Region, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power had this to say about Rwanda:
“Unfortunately, despite Rwanda’s progress on economic rights, on women’s rights – on so many development axes – its record on protecting and promoting civil and political rights is less impressive. The United States remains deeply committed to our partnership with Rwanda, but the continued absence of political space – the inability of individuals and journalists to discuss political affairs or report on issues of public concern – poses a serious risk to Rwanda’s future stability. Rwanda can achieve lasting peace and prosperity through a government centered on the principle of democratic accountability, not centered on any one single individual.”
In his arrogant and discourteous response to Ambassador Power, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Eugene Gasana, launched an uncalled for attack against the United States, Ambassador Power, and the United Nations itself.
“Ms. Power should not confuse her name with her assignment”
“Ms. Power does not have power on Rwanda”
“You (U.S.) somehow want to occupy our political space. And this, never, ever, will anyone come and occupy our political space”.
Rwanda’s Opposition Political Platform (FDU-Inkingi, AMAHORO-PC, PS-Imberakuri, PDP-Imanzi, and Rwanda National Congress-RNC) is not surprised by the low down etiquette from Ambassador Gasana, as President Kagame himself has notoriously engaged in similar outbursts in the past vis-à-vis the US. We estimate Ambassador Samantha Power’s remarks to be right on point, constructive, measured and respectful. Ambassador Power demonstrated diplomatic and leadership skill in articulating the U.S. policy on a difficult subject about a volatile region. Her remarks were directed to four countries in the Great Lakes region that have enjoyed cordial relationships with the United States.
It is our opinion that Ambassador Gasana had no ground to reprimand the U.N. Security Council for its failures in the 1994 Rwanda genocide and to point an accusing finger at Ambassador Power and the United States. He shamelessly glorified President Paul Kagame as the sole “hero” and “precious” man of Rwanda. Against all evidence, he had to lie that Rwanda has deepened democratic governance and pluralism, and that Rwandan citizens have freely chosen Paul Kagame as their president for life!
Ambassador Gasana demonstrated in form and substance the character of the regime and the Head of State he represents at the United Nations: intransigence, belligerence, impunity and the arrogance that comes with absolute power.
After such an arrogant attitude, one must wonder how ordinary citizens in Rwanda are treated if its rulers have no regard whatsoever of how they behave publicly towards other sovereign nations and multilateral institutions, including those who generously allocated significant taxpayer money in form of grants and aid to his heavily aid-dependent Rwanda.
Rwanda’s Opposition Political Platform condemns the disrespectful and shameful behavior of the Kigali regime and its Ambassador at the United Nations. Such a low etiquette runs contrary to the norms of international practice. Most importantly, it is a blatant violation of African values of respect and tolerance.
We commend the efforts of Ambassador Samantha Power and the U.S. Government in adding a consistent voice, as early warning in prevention, for galvanizing national, regional and international action against recurrence of past tragedies.
The Opposition Political Platform strongly believes that human, civil and political rights are the cornerstone of a durable peace and prosperity for Rwanda and the Great Lakes region.
President Kagame and Ambassador Gasana should take heed when citizens and the world at large insist that the current governance deficit and lack of democracy in Rwanda put at great risk its future stability.
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa