Rwanda needs Democracy and not a development clichés

On 26th November 2011, President Paul Kagame addressed cabinet members, members of parliament, government officials and the residents of Nduba Sector, Gasabo District in Kigali city gathered in a tree planting propaganda. His address was seen by many as an opportunity to mock some remarks by visiting US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Susan Rice, that Rwanda development successes were not mirrored in politics, democratic rule, media, human rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression.

“We are busy building Rwanda and who bring up negative critics on our achievements, is destroyed”, said President Paul Kagame.

In her remarks “as prepared for delivery”,under the title: “Building a New Nation: Rwanda’s Progress and Potential” , Ambassador Susan E. Rice on 23rd November 2011 at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology made strong appraisal of development efforts and substantial social progress but insisted that the democratic milestone is still far away to be seen. She said:

Mrs Victoire Ingabire

“ Rwanda’s economic vitality has moved the country forward. Social progress has been substantial. Yet, the political culture in Rwanda remains comparatively closed. Press restrictions persist. Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out. Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared. Yet, the world is moving rapidly in a different direction. Across the globe, including in societies where the common wisdom was that freedom would never arrive, we are seeing people demand the right to chart their own future, to organize peaceful demonstrations, and to criticize their own governments. From an angry young fruit seller in Tunisia, the demand to be heard has spread across North Africa and into the Middle East. It was taken up in Egypt. Then Libyans demanded the end to Qaddafi’s 42 years of tyranny. Today, Syrians and Yemenis are being killed by their governments simply for saying what they think about their leaders and their future. But they will keep speaking out, because they have a universal human right to do so. And they know it.

These rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom to organize peacefully, are just as vital, just as inherent in Asia, in Latin America and in Sub-Saharan Africa as they are in Europe, America or the Middle East. (…)” End of quotes.

Responding to this and similar calls, President Paul Kagame stated:

“… why after listing all our achievements, the conclusion of some is that Rwandans don’t have space to express themselves”. There is no place to say nothing nor to say and we don’t respond. Our government has put means in place for Rwandans, including internet infrastructure, to say what they want and where they want. A population of over 10 millions of Rwandans is using that, it’s unacceptable that only about 100 or 150 people should be given special privileges to express themselves and remain unchallenged. What are they? Why then? Amongst them are many who say nothing, or whose words tend to destroy what we have achieved. (…) We are busy building Rwanda and who bring up negative critics on our achievements, are destroyed. We are not sorry for this at all. Actually we don’t do it enough because of those things of freedoms and rights. (Original text in Kinyarwanda: “… Ariko ntabwo nakwemera ngo urambwira ngo abakwiye kuba bavuga kandi batanasubizwa ni abantu bagera nko ku ijana cyangwa ijana na mirongo itanu mu bantu miliyoni icumi n’izindi. Abo se ni iki ? Kubera iki ? Muri bo ko harimo n’abavuga ubusa cyangwa ko muri bo ko hari n#abavuga ibisenya! Igihe turiho twubaka u Rwanda ukaza kuvuga ibirusenya turagusenya. Nta n’umwe twabisabira imbabazi at all, ahubwo ntitubikora bihagije, nabwo bijyanye na kwa kundi kureka abantu gusa ngo bishyire bizane)”.

As for good governance, democracy and human rights. When you promote equal access and you are number one on the planet to empower women, whoever says this is not democracy is “insane”.(…)” , he stated.

FDU – INKINGI welcomes the recommendations by Ambassador Susan Rice, specially the lack of freedom of speech, lack of political space and violations of human rights. Her reference to the Arab spring is very timely if Rwandan current political situation goes unchecked. “Nearly half of Rwandans today were born after the genocide ended”, she stated. This analysis is relevant, and Rwandans all together need to move on and build a post genocide society.

Our party chair, Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and presidents or leaders of other 3 opposition parties and many journalists are in maximum prison for politically motivated counts. Opposition leaders and journalists have been killed. Opposition leaders in exile are hunted down and hefty prison sentences and subsequent arrest warrants have been circulated by our government. A judicial case on genocide negation and terrorism is in the making against well known humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, Hotel Rwanda real hero, because of his critics on lack on good governance, the shrinking political space and violations of human rights. This is nothing else than that policy to destroy all dissenting voices, as confessed in his statement.

It’s time to speak out Rwandan dictatorship.

Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President.