Paul Kagame’s Campaign in Ngororero: A Speech Filled with Promises and Controversies

Ngororero, Rwanda – June 24, 2024: For the third consecutive day, President Paul Kagame continued his electoral campaign, stopping this Monday at the Ngororero Stadium. This meeting followed his appearances in Musanze on Saturday and Rubavu on Sunday. In Ngororero, a large number of citizens, many of whom arrived at dawn, gathered to hear his speech.

Various artists entertained the event, contributing to the atmosphere of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s (RPF-Inkotanyi) electoral campaign. Dr. Vincent Biruta, President of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), began by praising Paul Kagame’s leadership. He described Kagame as a hero who has always been faithful to Rwanda and its people, even during his years in exile. Dr. Biruta emphasized that Rwanda’s achievements under Kagame’s leadership would have been impossible without his exceptional leadership.

In his speech, Paul Kagame first expressed his gratitude to the members of the political parties allied with RPF Inkotanyi, highlighting the importance of collaboration. “Working together is not a sign of weakness but of great determination,” he stated. He criticized those who perceive the political alliance as an admission of failure, asserting that unity allows for greater achievements than individual efforts.

Kagame explained that his goal in visiting Ngororero and other regions was to remind the population of the importance of supporting RPF candidates in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections scheduled for July 15, 2024. He referenced previous campaigns in 2017 and before, describing the democratic process and development as ongoing objectives. He called for massive participation to choose the deputies and the future president of Rwanda.

President Kagame addressed a controversial point by responding to criticisms of Rwandan democracy. He asserted that although some doubt this democracy, it is superior to that of many other countries because Rwandans choose their leaders with 100% unanimity, unlike other nations where leaders are elected with only 15% support. “Some think that 100% is not democracy, but they will understand that democracy, the path we are on, what we will do on July 15, concerns Rwanda. It does not concern them much; it is our affair,” he declared. “How is it possible to get 100%? They say there is no democracy. Recently, I asked someone, ‘Being led by someone elected by 15%, is that democracy?’ Sometimes, only 30% of those who should vote do so. Is that democracy? Don’t be intimidated by all this, some of these arguments come from ignorance.”

However, Kagame seems to overlook that, before the elections, the RPF systematically removes strong candidates and uses coercive methods, including intimidation and forcing citizens to attend FPR meetings, to ensure that Kagame’s support appears unequivocal.

Kagame also insisted on Rwanda’s self-sufficiency, stating that the country has all the necessary means to develop without relying on foreign aid, provided there is good governance and engaged citizens. “Rwandans, like others in Africa, must overcome the mentality of poverty and internal divisions,” he declared.

He reassured the residents of Ngororero that security issues, such as those caused by insurgents after the genocide, would not recur, highlighting the government’s efforts to maintain peace and security.

This stage of Paul Kagame’s campaign in Ngororero was marked by promises of continued development and security while raising questions about the true nature of democracy and political freedom in Rwanda. Criticisms and controversies surrounding his regime remain a burning issue, even if they are often stifled in official discourse.