Kigali: Umushyikirano Council Amidst a Regional Tension Atmosphere

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has urged various leaders within the country to collaborate more effectively to accelerate national development. He emphasized that Africa should not be overly dependent on foreign aid, a statement he made during the closing ceremony of the 19th National Umushyikirano Council held in Kigali, Rwanda. President Kagame praised the recent council meeting as being particularly successful, surpassing previous ones in terms of outcomes.

President Kagame reiterated the importance of moving away from a culture of individualism in professional settings. The Umushyikirano Council, a significant annual event, invites leaders from various sectors across the country.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a political opposition leader from the DALFA Umulinzi party, who was not invited to the council, expressed to Voice of America her concerns regarding the President’s repeated calls for change among his peers, noting a lack of visible progress.

President Kagame criticized the tendency among some African leaders to rely heavily on foreign intervention for every issue. He sees a need for substantial change, particularly in the responsibility leaders have towards their citizens. He indirectly referred to his counterparts, Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggesting that they focus more on the pressing issues in their countries rather than getting entangled in ethnic conflicts that offer no solutions.

Last week, President Ndayishimiye addressed the youth of Rwanda in Kinshasa, expressing his readiness to assist them. President Kagame’s speech at the council can be seen as an indirect response to this statement.

Internationally, Kagame’s foreign policy has been marked by contentious relations with neighboring countries, including allegations of supporting insurgents to destabilize regional security.

It’s noteworthy that President Kagame has been in power for nearly 30 years. He has been criticized in various reports by human rights organizations for human rights abuses and suppressing democracy, including intolerance towards dissent, leading to deaths, imprisonments, and forced exiles. Rwandan intelligence services are also accused of pursuing dissidents even in exile.

The annual Umushyikirano Council is intended to review the country’s development progress and set long-term sustainable strategies. However, some analysts view it as a platform that predominantly serves to bolster President Kagame’s image and showcase his leadership, as evidenced by the speeches and rhetoric that praise him during the event. They observe that opposition voices and ideas diverging from the ruling FPR party’s narrative don’t receive any attention or space in these discussions.