By David Himbara
Strongman General Paul Kagame has just thrown into his dungeon Diane Shima Rwigara, her mother, and the rest of the family. And what is Shima Rwigara’s crime? Attempting to compete for Rwandan presidency. Shima was subsequently denied her right to run for high office. Shima would not be silenced, however. She remained an outspoken critic of the regime, refusing to succumb to tyrannical intimidation that has silenced the entire Rwandan nation. And then Kagame struck.
I have said this before and I am repeating it now – Kagame is Rwanda’s Caligula. And who was Caligula?
Caligula was a Roman ruler who went to extremes. When the Roman empire fell into his hands, the citizens rejoiced, believing that Caligula would end the then prevailing tyranny. The 24-year-old Caligula would bring peace and prosperity – or so the Romans thought.
For a while, Caligula lived up to the citizens’ expectations. He freed them from unjust rule. He also staged lavish events, including chariot races and gladiator shows. Caligula was a people’s emperor.
The Roman empire was in for a shock, however. Power soon went into Caligula’s head. He began to crazily flaunt his power, unleashing unprecedented violence on the population. He set his sight on his political rivals, eliminating most of them, and forcing families to watch the executions of their loved ones. Caligula became synonymous with extreme debauchery, sadism, insanity and horror.
Caligula’s similarities with the Rwandan dictator, Paul Kagame, are striking. Kagame, too, came to power promising to end dictatorship but created the most vicious one. Elimination of political rivals in and outside Rwanda became his trademark. Kagame’s violence became legendary resulting in millions of deaths in Rwanda and DR Congo.
Kagame’s violence and intimidation continue to this day. And now Rwanda’s Caligula has thrown Diane Shima Rwigara and her entire family into his dungeon. In Kagame’s jails are other political opponents such as Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Ingabire has been languishing in Kagame’s jail for seven years.
We can expect the worst of the worst – in the aftermath of the 99% electoral win by Rwanda’s Caligula. He is now empowered by the amended constitution which does two things; it allows Caligula to rule Rwanda until 2034; it allows him to commit any crimes he wants without consequences during the rest of his presidency and in even retirement. Article 114 of the amended constitution says that
a former President of the Republic cannot be prosecuted for treason or serious and deliberate violation of the Constitution when no legal proceedings in respect of that offence were brought against him or her while in office.
Legal proceedings against Rwanda’s Caligula while in office are of course out of the question – he is the law.
How might the Rwandan Caligula end? No Rwandan ruler ever left power peacefully – they met disastrous ends. So did the original Roman Caligula. The Romans grew to hate their cruel leader, and sought to get rid of him by any means. Caligula was subsequently assassinated – he was stabbed 30 times. His body was dumped into a shallow grave. His wife and daughter were also murdered.