A political regime is democratic if it allows citizens to control its leaders and also to oust them without resorting to violence, but in many countries whose leaders, to legitimize themselves for life, resort to sham elections, the resistance of opponents is repressed in the blood. What is the point of this type of ballot if we elect indefinitely? President Kagame, under fire from European journalists’ questions, replied that African democracy differs from that of Westerners but he did not name it. Without letting ourselves be fooled by such a tyrant, it is important to note that there are around ten African countries where democracy has succeeded, notably Senegal, Benin, Zambia; Tunisia, Kenya, Liberia; Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Algeria… they can be counted on your fingertips. But around forty other countries that resort also to elections infringe deliberately rules governing democracy. From the foregoing, the question that remains unanswered is the type of democracy practiced in these latter vast regions and what is the purpose of this popular consultation tainted by deliberate frauds and irregularities. The present analysis attempts to resolve these questions.
The Minister of Transport of Kenya, Kipchumba Murkomen, recently stated that Rwanda is a “dictatorship” where whatever the President says is law. According to the BBC, these words were not well received by some citizens who even asked him to correct the language and that it is not appropriate to publish such words on a neighboring country. Kipchumba Murkomen made these statements in an interview with Citizen Television, responding to the debate on the comparison of the transport system between Kenya and the neighboring country (Rwanda). After his words, Kenyans asked him to correct his language, fearing that these words would increase the bad atmosphere between the two countries and be considered provocative. On Monday evening on Citizen TV, Murkomen was asked why Kenya is not changing the public transport system like Rwanda. This was based on the fact that in Kenya, minibuses still travel on highways, causing many accidents. However, the Minister in charge of transportation, said that people should not compare Kenya and Rwanda, saying that “Rwanda’s political style is different from Kenya’s democracy.” He said, “Rwanda is not like Kenya. Rwanda is a jungle country where whatever the president says is the law.” He added that Rwanda is smaller than Kajiado province”, a province on the outskirts of Nairobi. He said, “Any decision you make in this country, first go through the Legislative Assembly, and then the people will have a say later.” This statement caused a debate on social media in Kenya, where many agreed that it could create a bad atmosphere between these countries of the East African Community.
In X’s former twitter message, answering those who continue to press him, he said that “I appreciate the management of Rwanda, where it is doing a lot, including many infrastructures, including the new airport, and the efforts put into building roads.” Not only Rwanda, countries such as the UAE, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, among others have a leadership style that has brought much to the people because their leaders have the power to make firm decisions. Murkomen has recently been in the news for the power outage at Kenya’s main airport in Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta Airport. His comments on Rwanda come a day after President Ruto said that Kenya’s foreign relations with its neighbors are “perfect”.
A series of political-legal challenges risk unmasking African dictatorships but not being fooled, our tyrants know how to sneakily overcome them to deceive the international community obliged to tolerate them as a stopgap.
1)The concern for legitimacy
Although they have often appropriated power by force and deep down they do not intend to leave it, but as long as they have not chosen monarchy as a mode of governance, the republican system involves mandates of representation. To justify the “monarchical” maintenance of the power of our dictators, this obstacle is lifted by facade elections where everything is played in advance as long as they have their own army and the electoral commission whose staff were appointed to help them steal the vote. Indeed, legitimacy describes the quality of the relationship between the political structure and society of a country. It designates the existence of a moral justification for the possession of authority by a political power (normative vision), but also the recognition by the population of this authority (positive vision). The legitimacy of political power is often approached via the nature of the political regime in place, that is to say the way in which access to power and its exercise are organized. She then describes the nature of the regime, from autocratic to democratic – the latter guaranteeing the conditions of legitimacy of political power. The approach is thus normative. The most common measure of the democratic nature of a regime is the “Polity score” developed by the Center for Systemic Peace. This indicator ranks legitimacy on a hierarchical scale, from totally democratic regime (score of 10) to totally autocratic regime (monarchy, with a score of –10) via a spectrum of intermediate situations, called anocracies. Each year, a score is estimated for each country. Six criteria make it possible to characterize regimes as more or less democratic. Three concern the recruitment of rulers: the existence of recruitment rules (established rules, or conversely absence of rules), the competitive nature of recruitment (designation without consultation or elections), the openness of recruitment (the fact that several groups have access to the recruitment process). The fourth criterion concerns the existence and respect of the decision rule. The last two criteria qualify political competition: on the one hand, the format of participation in the political debate (parties traditionally confronting each other or groups occasionally formed to defend a specific interest), on the other hand competition for participation (of total repression of parties opposed to the accepted competition of opinions).
2)Popularity by forceps
To prove to its mentors and donors that its governance has reached the general Rwandan public, the RPF has established task forces within all public and private establishments and at the level of local administrative entities with the aim of cultivating its image either – calling himself the messiah of the country demonizing the regimes that preceded him. In the same vein, secondary school graduates must follow military-civic training where they are indoctrinated; the trainers only touting the exploits of the former RPF rebellion which became master of the country. But they are unaware that most of these children have parents killed by the same RPF during the revenge operations which followed its victory carried out by criminals like Charles Kayonga; Patrick Nyamvumba; John Gashayija Bagirigomwa, Emmanuel Gasana; Gacinya; Jack Nziza; Wilson Gumisiriza, Karenzi Karake, James Kabarebe, Fred Ibingira; Captain Kiyago; the list is so long. They are unaware that most of their parents are incarcerated in Rwanda’s deadly prisons.
3)The legal solution
To ensure their longevity in power, authoritarian regimes tinker with the constitution to lift the term limit as well as the age of candidates and increase the number of years that each mandate lasts, ranging from five years to seven years. This is the case of countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Uganda, Congo and Cameroon where Ngwema; Afuerki, Museveni, Sassou and Bia have already passed three decades if not four in power. This is also the case of Rwanda, Burundi, Gabon, Togo, Ivory Coast where the constitutions have been revised to allow presidents to be elected indefinitely.
4) Tracking down opponents
Rwanda comes at the head of the regimes which persecute political opponents both internally and abroad. We remember with fresh memory the assassinations of Colonel Karegyeya; generals Mudacumura; Mugaragu and Dr. Mupenzi Jean de la Paix; Colonel Jean Marie Vianney Kanzeguhera; Lt Revocat, Ben Rutabana, Uwiringiyimana Juvenal, Theogene Turatsinze; Bamporiki Seif; Camir Nkurunziza; Rizinde; Sendashonga; the abortive attacks against General Kayumba Nyamwasa. Inside the country, a good number of citizens killed by the regime amongs others the mucisians Kizito Mihigo and Jay Polly; the poet Rafiki; Dr. Emmanuel Gasakure; Ntwari William, Charles Ingabire; Jean-Léonard Rugambage; Andrew Kaggwa Rwisereka; Alfred Nsengimana; Bukuru Ntwari; Rwigara Assinapol; Me Mutunzi Donat; Me Nzamwita Toy; Father Karekezi Dominique; Bishop Misago Augustin; political prisoners such as Mushayidi; Ntaganda; Ingabire Victoire; Munyakazi Leopold; Leon Mugesera; Yvonne Idamange; Karasira; Rusesabagina Paul; journalists like Nshimiyimana Jean Baptiste, Niyonsenga Shadrack, Mutuyimana Jean Damascene, Cyuma Hassan; Theoneste Nsengimana; Hakuzimana Abdou Rashid; Nkusi Joseph; Nkundineza Jean Paul, Dr Kayumba Christopher, the list is long. Worse still, we will not forget the purchase of Pegasus software to spy on its opponents for immeasurable sums despite the famine which is ravaging its population.
5) how long will this infernal vicious circle last: just a dead end
Like the residents of the Gaza enclave under Israeli occupation before October 7, 2023, Paul Kagame’s Rwanda is a prison from which no one leaves. The Rwandan population is timid because it is terrorized by a bloodthirsty regime that spies on everything; kills in cold blood anyone who is rightly or wrongly suspected of opposing it; monopolizes the country’s wealth for the benefit of a clique whose members take turns in the high functions of the country without sharing, reducing other intellectuals to unemployment, impoverishes traders through surcharges and contributions to the RPF coffers; delivers the population to famine, the outcome of which is not predictable. Worse still, this impasse will last because the regime relies on the absence of internal insecurity and the peacekeeping missions that it negotiates to pay the salaries of its soldiers and cultivate a good image in order to attract attention and sympathy of the West which installed him in power since 1994.
Thus, a certain number of principles and values are generally associated with liberal democracy, which relate either to the principles of democratic representation, or to the principles of liberalism (including economic liberalism), among which: the existence of a rule of law; the election of representatives, today most often by direct universal suffrage, with the principle: one citizen = one vote (political equality); the search for the general interest and respect for the will general (these being nevertheless generally defined by the leaders themselves; moreover, will and general interest, in addition to being abstract notions, can appear as possibly conflicting); equality of rights (or equality in the face of the law); the guarantee of fundamental freedoms, that is, generally, respect for human rights, in particular freedom of conscience and worship, freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of assembly, of association (this implies pluralism, and circulation, or even the right to property and, as far as contemporary liberal democracies are concerned, freedom of commerce (free trade), etc.
Unfortunately, these rights are non-existent under our dictatorial democracies where we legitimize ourselves through cheated elections to lure the international community to finally stay in power claiming to be “indispensable and essential” for their people. Ostracism is one of the solutions to root out dictators. Indeed, the goal of ostracism was to avoid the return of tyranny. Ostracism offered citizens the possibility of banishing for many years any person who could endanger democracy because of their political popularity. The name of the one who seemed the most dangerous to the State was entered. This device clearly indicates that democracy was wary of any dictatorial drift. Indeed, a political figure who is too popular can easily overthrow the regime by influencing people and lead to tyranny. In the century of Pericles “the function of ostracism was precisely to prevent the rise to power of a populist dictator. Likewise, eisangelia was a procedure which gave the possibility of indicting a magistrate. A solution far from being a panacea for Africans in general and Rwandans in particular under the sword of Damocles. So who will get us out of this trap? You only live once; time will tell sooner or later.