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Posts from — July 2010

Victoire Ingabire explains her Call For Resistance

In her recent CALL FOR A NON VIOLENT RESISTANCE (see Rwanda: The bell tolls for change), Mrs Victoire Ingabire encourages people to take action:
“Write in full letters, be it in your hand, in your head, in your heart, in your actions of everyday, in your small gestures, everywhere and every time:
“I want to resist, I resist for the welfare of my people”.
Each one of you has something he/she can do to make the change possible. What we need is courage and to accept to take charge of our destiny.
Let us all be the tools for that change that we want by resisting the dictatorship. The bell tolls for change.”

Norman S. Miwambo spoke to Mrs Victoire Ingabire and asked to say more about that resistance:

Norman S. Miwambo:
You recently wrote that ‘CALL FOR RESISTANCE’, what did you mean?

Victoire Ingabire:
Our understanding is that if we, as an opposition party, have no say in our country, it’s our right to say NO.
Dictators use fear to maintain people under their influence.
Our guiding principle is peace and non-violence.

The first steps of our resistance against state oppression by non-violent means will be for example to mobilize the population to slowly stay away from anything related to the regime, its administration, its arms and its instruments. Whenever the regime’s representatives show up, people just walk away peacefully. We want to clearly mark the widening rift between the government and the population.
Our supporters need some kind of training in this respect in order to progressively understand this concept, accept the subsequent sacrifices until a quality meaningful dialogue is established between the opposition and the regime.

Source: Modern Ghana

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July 31, 2010   3 Comments

Rwanda is on the brink of chaos – Victoire Ingabire

In her interview with Norman S. Miwambo, Mrs Victoire Ingabire alerts the international community and expresses her worries that Rwanda is on the brink of chaos. Here is what she has to say:

Norman S. Miwambo:
There are just a couple of weeks to the general elections, what do you make of this?

Victoire Ingabire:

The government has refused to register our political party FDU INKINGI and three members of our Executive committee are either under house arrest, either on bail. Personally, I am under extended house arrest. The whole world is peacefully witnessing the deepening crisis. All the opposition parties are muzzled. Leaders jailed and others assassinated. Newspapers closed, dissent journalists murdered or in detention.
This is a terror state, and we are left on our own. I don’t believe the population will continue to watch and let the oligarchy crush people. There is a mounting pressure inside the volcano. It will erupt. When? Nobody knows.
The crisis has reached the military as well. The country is on the brink of chaos. Who will survive? Nobody knows. The only thing we can still do is to alert the international community and to prepare for a humanitarian problem, and a possible unrest in the region.

Source: Modern Ghana.

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July 31, 2010   No Comments

Victoire Ingabire about the fate of her party FDU-Inkingi

Norman S. Miwambo, spoke to Mrs Victoire Ingabire and asked her about the fate of her party:

Norman S. Miwambo

Do you know the fate of your party? If so, can you give us a hint? What your next step to see that you campaign freely in a bid to contest for the country’s high post?

Victoire Ingabire:

It’s a shame that partners of Rwanda will continue to support a regime that is ignoring the basic rights of its citizens.
The international community has failed Rwandans during the 1994 genocide. Will they turn again a blind eye as the crisis deepens and unravels?
We expect that the pressure will force General Paul Kagame to open the political space, allow the registration of our political party.
Our struggle will continue until the FDU INKINGI is registered.
Should the election masquerade go on, we are ready to challenge its legitimacy until a fair and transparent process is arranged.
Yes, we expect to campaign in this country, not in a couple of weeks, but soon any way. If the incumbent does not postpone the poll, the deepening crisis will force him to do so in a few months. The wind of change is here.

Source: Modern Ghana.

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July 31, 2010   No Comments

“I’m ready for a peaceful resistance until the final victory” – Victoire Ingabire

In her interview with Norman S. Miwambo, Mrs Victoire Ingabire was asked the question:

What are you intending to do in the next couple of weeks, if things have not worked on your programme?


Victoire Ingabire’s answer:

We have already started to prepare our supporters for a non-violent resistance.
We avert violence and this is the motto of our action.
We know that after rigged elections and massive fraud this country will never be like before.
The incumbent and his supporters believe that they will use force to keep power; they forget that even bigger empires have collapsed. They have got no lessons from the history of apartheid, fascism and many other dictatorships. My intention is to stay alive, and I’m ready for a peaceful resistance until the final victory.

Source: Modern Ghana.

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July 31, 2010   No Comments

Victoire Ingabire’s worries: “The question now is how long is the life expectancy of an opposition leader in Rwanda?”

Norman S. Miwambo spoke to Mrs Victoire Ingabire and asked her the question:

How do you consider yourself given the current political situation in the country?

Victoire Ingabire’s answer:

I am a victim of a dictatorship.
I have no rights in my country.
I have no chance to see my children and my husband still in exile in Europe.
I am under house arrest and the regime’s judiciary has refused to take me to court alleging that the prosecution is still gathering the evidence.
I receive almost every day death threats.
The state police makes sure I remain in almost a total quarantine. They have now started a campaign of pressure on estates’ owners in order to make sure I have no home to rent. For example my previous landlord cancelled our tenancy agreement because of serious death threats from security services. On 17th July 2010, I moved to another house, and two days later the owner explained that his safety is more important.
Recently we invited journalists for a press conference, and all the hotels cancelled our bookings at the last minute.
The question now is how long is the life expectancy of an opposition leader in Kigali?

Source: Modern Ghana.

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July 31, 2010   No Comments

Victoire Ingabire under continuous threats

by Norman S. Miwambo.

Victoire Ingabire, chair of opposition party FDU-Inkingi

Victoire Ingabire, chair of opposition party FDU-Inkingi

No rights to a place of abode in own country – Mrs Ingabire

Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the United Democratic Forces (UDF) Inkingi, an opposition political party in Rwanda, early this year, return to her home country after a 16 years’ exile in Europe.

Since, her return in January this year, she has not enjoyed the basic human rights such as; seeing her children, husband and a right to have a place of abode in her own native country. She alleges to be in constant fears at all times as death threats continue to ensue. Her concerns are real, in the space of 2 months several officials who differ from President Kagame’s views; have fled the country, assassinated, survived assassination attempt or relinquishing in Rwandan jails indefinitely.

In June, a former Rwandan ambassador to India, and army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa survived death, after an attempt assassination in Johannesburg South Africa.

Mid-July, Vice President of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka was assassinated. Also Jean-Leonard Rugambage a watchdog Reporter without Borders was assassinated after alleging reports of the involvement of President Kagame in the failed assassination attempt of Lt. Gen Nyamwasa.

Such psychological torture, previous detention and being homeless in her own country remain hallmarks of her-lifestyle.

According to Mrs Ingabire, the only ‘luxury’ known to her, the recent experience when she earned a treat to persecution leading to getting filthy free prison meals.

Her dream appears to be diminishing to challenge the Rwanda’s incumbent Paul Kagame in the next month’s general election, because with only a couple of week left, she hasn’t been given space.

In her own native country, Mrs Ingabire is a victim of African dictatorship and has no right for a place of abode, landlords willing to accommodate her, are given ‘deaths’ threats by Rwanda secret police.

A landlord to her current dwelling place turned up two days after possession and prompted an immediate lease withdrawal process. Several Kigali hotels have previously aborted at the last minute after threats from the country’s secret police. She alleges that police brutality, beatings, torture and deaths threats, disproportionate force and the use of extreme dislike langue, curse and insulting pronouncements by state agents are on the increase against the opposition.

Source: Modern Ghana – “No rights to a place of abode in own country-Mrs Ingabire”.

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July 31, 2010   No Comments

Unconditional Aid and Militarization: Serious Obstacles to Rwandan Democratisation

by Ambrose Nzeyimana.

Black Star News believes that Barack Obama’s administration could hold the key for some of the African continent’s problems. ‘His decisions could free millions of Africans from bondage — the one imposed for decades now by African dictators often with Western collusion– save millions of lives in avoided bloodshed, and help unleash the great reservoir wherein Africa’s vast potential has been condemned,’ says the news source.

…Rwandan Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo could also privately or openly claim that, ‘as long as the US supports us, it does not matter what the world thinks.

It appears to be for Kagame psychologically easier to retreat behind the genocide ideology and other divisionism crimes to silence any dissent voice than to honestly face the hard facts of his discriminative policies, which unfortunately are making his regime becoming so intolerant inside and disliked throughout the world

The future of Rwanda hangs in the balance between the determination of those who today feel oppressed by his autocratic regime and the right assessment of the evolving political climate by those seeing Rwanda as a success story.
Ambrose Nzeyimana.

In these days heading to the 9th of August elections in Rwanda, and following the series of politically motivated crimes, according to many human rights organizations and independent newspapers, Paul Kagame’s country risks loosing praises Western governments had been giving since the end of the 1994 genocide. Though similarities of situations might look somehow not so close, Noam Chomsky says that, ‘it is worth recalling what happened in South Africa. Fifty years ago, the white nationalist regime recognized that it was becoming an international pariah.’ Like the South African Foreign Minister at the time while talking to the US Ambassador, Rwandan Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo could also privately or openly claim that, ‘as long as the US supports us, it does not matter what the world thinks.’

Africa Faith and Justice Network and other human rights organization working in the Great Lakes region oppose the US continued foreign policy of supporting African friendly tyrants as long as they defend American interests. ‘The U.S. policy has been to support strongmen,’ says Maurice Carney, executive director of Friends of the Congo. ‘And at the head of the class is Paul Kagame, who has received military support, weapons, training and intelligence and as a result has been able to invade Rwanda’s neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and sustain proxy militia fighting there to rob the Congolese people of their natural resources. He has contributed to the death of over 6 million people in Congo and to the destabilization of Africa’s whole Great Lakes region.

‘The UK is Rwanda’s largest bilateral donor, giving around £380m since the genocide in 1994,’ explains Sophie Elmhirst in The New Stateman. The Department for International Development Minister, Stephen O’ Brien, traveled to Rwanda on June 16th and 17th. He met President Kagame and other Rwandan government ministers.
Through a local member of parliament I learned that apparently the Minister had raised the issues faced by opposition parties, and highlighted the importance that the UK, as a major bilateral donor and fellow member of the Commonwealth, attaches to core democratic values, such as freedom of speech and constructive opposition.

Surprisingly, it was on June 19th that an assassination attempt in South Africa was done against dissident General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
On June 24th, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist working for the banned newspaper Umuvugizi, was murdered.
The same day there was a general crackdown on opposition parties which peacefully demonstrated against their exclusion from participating in electoral campaign. Those detained suffered severe torture and harassment from security forces.
Bernard Ntaganda, the leader of PS-IMBERAKURI has been in prison since then.
On July 8th, Agnès Uwimana Nkusi, Saidati Mukakibibi, and Patrick Kambare, journalists of the independent newspaper Umurabyo were arrested.
On July 14th, André Kagwa Rwisereka, Vice-President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, was murdered, found almost beheaded.
Two leaders of the FDU-Inkingi opposition party Mr Martin Ntavuka and Mr Anastase Hagabimana were arrested on July 24th.

It appears to be for Kagame psychologically easier to retreat behind the genocide ideology and other divisionism crimes to silence any dissent voice than to honestly face the hard facts of his discriminative policies, which unfortunately are making his regime becoming so intolerant inside and disliked throughout the world. In May this year, the imprisonment in Kigali of the American lawyer Peter Erlinder who went to represent Victoire Ingabire, leader of the main opposition leader FDU-Inkingi, accused of divisionism and association with a terrorist group, may have added its fair share onto such negative attitude.

As results of Kagame’s elections are already predictable for a candidate without real challengers, scripts of congratulation messages are also probably being finalized. In the short term, not much may change from his still strong supporters. But the future of Rwanda hangs in the balance between the determination of those who today feel oppressed by his autocratic regime and the right assessment of the evolving political climate by those seeing Rwanda as a success story. Maybe this time round they could be fast in spotting the dangerous signs before more lives are lost.

Ambrose Nzeyimana is an Africanist and Human Rights Activist

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July 30, 2010   1 Comment

Rwandan Election: Doubts About the Poster Boy Kagame

by Mike Pflanz.

Paul Kagame: poster boy for the west's aid policies.Paul Kagame: poster boy for the west’s aid policies

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, long the darling of western donors, is widely expected to win August’s presidential polls, the second since the 1994 genocide. But is his success down to pure popularity, or because of an apparent crackdown on voices of dissent?

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, long the darling of western donors, is widely expected to win August’s presidential polls, the second since the 1994 genocide. But is his success down to pure popularity, or because of an apparent crackdown on voices of dissent?

On the surface, Kagame is a poster boy for the west’s aid policies, an African leader who stamps on corruption, who uses international help to educate children, treat the sick, repair roads and boost business.
Mike Pflanz.

‘It is strange. Why, if he has all this support, will he not allow opposition and then trounce them at the polls,’ asked a Kigali-based European diplomat. ‘Clearly all this other stuff is not the kind of press we were expecting out of Rwanda in the run-up to the elections.’

“.‘The political environment ahead of the election has been riddled by a series of worrying actions taken by the Government of Rwanda, which appear to be attempts to restrict the freedom of expression’.
Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson.

Paul Kagame stands at a podium in an open-air stadium in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, where terrified thousands sought refuge from the men with the machetes as the killing started exactly sixteen years earlier.

It is Genocide Memorial Day, April 7, 2010, and the president is talking about turning grief to strength and determination. So far he has spoken mostly in Kinyarwanda, his nation’s language, but without warning he switches to English.

What he says next is clearly directed at the suited dignitaries representing the world’s diplomatic missions, the donors who together pump roughly $700million into his country annually, or a little less than half its budget.

Political space, freedom of expression, press freedom, who are these giving anyone here lessons, honestly?‘ Kagame asks, softly, seemingly genuinely puzzled, as applause breaks out behind him. ‘These Rwandans…are as free, as happy, as proud of themselves like they have never been.

On the surface, Kagame is a poster boy for the west’s aid policies, an African leader who stamps on corruption, who uses international help to educate children, treat the sick, repair roads and boost business.

Former United States President Bill Clinton last year recognised his ‘public service’ with a Clinton Global Citizen Award. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is an unpaid and enthusiastic advisor to his government. Blair’s successor, David Cameron and senior members of the British Conservative party have for the last four years spent part of their summer recess building schools across Rwanda, and cosying up to its President.

So, why, at an event charged with the memories of sixteen years ago, is Kagame appearing to bite the hands that help feed his people? The reason is another date, August 9, when Rwandans vote in only their second democratic presidential election since the genocide.

UGLY EVENTS

In the lead-up to polling, a series of ugly events has focused the international spotlight on Kagame in a way that has never happened before. He suspended two popular independent newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, described by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists as ‘the only critical media voices left in the country’.

A week later, Victoire Ingabire, head of the opposition Unified Democratic Forces returned from exile in Holland, was promptly arrested and charged with denying the genocide, among other indictments. She has been bailed, but is under house arrest. Her American lawyer, Peter Erlinder, was arrested too, also accused of genocide denial, and only released on medical grounds after three weeks.

A second presidential hopeful, Bernard Ntaganda, is in prison awaiting trial on four charges, including terrorism. A Human Rights Watch researcher was expelled from the country over alleged visa irregularities.

Only three opposition parties have been allowed to nominate presidential candidates. They are accused of at best being strategically soft on Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, at worst, being its proxies. ‘There is nothing we can do, we have supporters, we are ready to contest the election, but we cannot because we cannot register,’ said Frank Habineza, leader of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.

Most seriously, a reporter from one of the banned newspapers, Jean Leonard Rugambage, was shot dead outside his house on the evening of June 24.

Earlier in the day, a story he had written appeared online, alleging Rwandan security force involvement in the apparent assassination attempt of a disaffected army general – and former ally of Kagame’s – in South Africa. General Kayumba Nyamwasa, who reportedly fled Rwanda earlier this year afraid for his life, is expected to survive his injuries.

Two other army generals have been arrested in Rwanda, one for corruption, another for immoral conduct. Both were accused of links to a series of mysterious grenade attacks which killed one person and risk frightening-off tourists, who supply the largest share of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The vice-president of the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda was found beheaded near his abandoned car on July 15, in what authorities said was a robbery. But his Green party colleagues immediately voiced suspicions that this too was a political killing. Kagame’s government has angrily denied any involvement in the deaths or shootings.

WESTERN WORRIES

It is strange. Why, if he has all this support, will he not allow opposition and then trounce them at the polls,‘ asked a Kigali-based European diplomat. ‘Clearly all this other stuff is not the kind of press we were expecting out of Rwanda in the run-up to the elections.’

Certainly not, agreed US President Barack Obama’s point-man for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson. In testimony to the US House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, he said: ‘The political environment ahead of the election has been riddled by a series of worrying actions taken by the Government of Rwanda, which appear to be attempts to restrict the freedom of expression.

Carson’s comments came as something of a pleasant surprise to those frustrated at a lack of international pressure on a leader who, they felt, was being allowed to run his nation like a dictatorship.

‘Carson’s statement was significant, and encouraging,’ said Carina Tertsakian, the Human Rights Watch staffer whose Rwanda visa was cancelled. ‘Sadly so far we have seen very little will on the part of western donors to deal with this issue, we’ve seen nothing like that coming out of the UK, for example, which is by far the biggest European donor and main supporter of the Rwandan government. We hope for more [international pressure], but we’re not seeing it yet.’

But this is exactly the kind of attention that irritates Kagame that prompted his puzzled statements on Genocide Memorial Day. Much of the concern, from human rights organisations and media freedom advocates, centres on the accusation that the government uses the charge of denying the genocide as a political tool to silence critics.

Britain’s new coalition government has said it is watching the run-up to Rwanda’s election closely. Speaking to The World Today during a visit to Nairobi, Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said Britain was Rwanda’s ‘good, but candid, friend’ and that he had raised concerns publicly and privately with the government in Kigali.

‘There are real issues about ethnicity in a country which saw over eight hundred thousand people murdered principally by machete and single shot in ninety days,’ he said.

‘You have an incredible legacy to balance between the desire of the survivors for revenge and the rights of the Hutu people to live in peace. I think we in the west should be respectful of that very difficult situation in arriving at conclusions about how the Rwandans handle it.

‘I’m not saying that the restriction on political space should go unchallenged, far from it. But I think that they are entitled to be cut quite a lot of slack in addressing ethnic issues which have the power to be deeply destabilising in a country with Rwanda’s history.’

From holding an iron grip on a generally supportive military, the same army which he led from exile into Rwanda to stop the genocide sixteen years ago, Kagame is now facing dissent among some senior officers.

There are accusations that political patronage is spread too thin. Or that control of privatised state assets is being passed to too small an inner circle.

But critics claim, discuss this and the strong arm of the state will find you. Further, they question the long term sustainability of what is, in essence, the world’s first real experiment in post-genocide state reconstruction.

Kagame’s unspoken theory is that if people are richer, they are less likely to fight because they will have far more to lose.

But that is not proven, and what if another seven years of firmly keeping the lid on dissent means that, come the next election, the pot is boiling and ready to explode?

‘It shouldn’t be us raising these issues, but as a Rwandan, what can you do’, asks Tertsakian. ‘As soon as you say anything, you are arrested and accused of genocide ideology, or threatened with it, or forced into exile.’

That is to entirely miss the point, counter Kagame’s supporters. ‘For Rwandans, guarding against genocide ideology is a matter of core national security,’ said Andrew Wallis, an advisor to Kagame’s government and author of Silent Accomplice: The Untold Story of France’s Role in the Rwandan Genocide.

‘Kagame feels that if you have a western-type full freedom of expression, that will allow revisionism, genocide denial, and that can lead to genocide itself. It’s still too soon since 1994. The feeling is, give the guy a break.’

BEST FOR BUSINESS

And Kagame’s record – human rights concerns aside – is impressive. A country utterly on its knees sixteen years ago, where neighbours had turned on neighbours, teachers on pupils, churchmen on congregations, is now among Africa’smost successful.

Since Kagame was first democratically elected – privately saying his models for how to run his country were South Korea and Singapore -economic growth has averaged above eight percent, and this year the World Bank named it as the world’s best business reformer.

Kigali aims to become a regional hub for conferencing and the service industry. Broadband internet cables are snaking up and down the hills.

Primary schooling is now free, extra teachers are being hired, new universities planned. Subsistence farmers – still eighty percent of the eleven million population – are advised on modern techniques and organic fertilisers.

Rwanda became only the second non-Anglophone country – after Mozambique – to join the Commonwealth last year, and Kagame has come to something of a rapprochement with the French, whom he long accused of favouring the Hutu genocidaires before and during 1994’s horrors.

Both moves are aimed at broadening Rwanda’s business partnerships. Beijing is being courted, but is unlikely to be as big a player as elsewhere in Africa because Rwanda has few minerals.

So, it is clear that Kagame will win re-election this year. For many Rwanda-watchers, the more fascinating contest will be the next presidential polls, in 2017. The president is unlikely to stand again, but as yet there is no clue as to his successor.

‘The question is whether Rwanda is ready for a Western-style democracy, and the answer at this point probably is no,’ said Wallis. ‘He has been called many things, but one is for sure: Kagame is a man of immense vision, and that vision is being impressively implemented. Why must outsiders keep pushing their theories of how to run a country onto Rwanda?’

‘Give him another seven years to bequeath a country where everyone’s too busy making money to risk anything like 1994, and then, perhaps, that will be time for true multipartyism. It’s far from sure, though.’

Mike Pflanz, Correspondent, East, West and Central Africa, Daily Telergaph, in Nairobi.

[The World Today]

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July 30, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda Media High Council releases list of allowed media organs

Kigali – The Media High Council on Wednesday released a new list of the media which will be accepted to operate in the country – leaving out almost all the controversial tabloids some of which have been suspended.

From a review process which started August last year, with deadlines extended twice up to July 16, the Media Council said 19 radio stations and 22 newspapers are the ones which qualified.

“This list does not include media organs licensed or approved for license after the promulgation of the media law but specifically those that were in existence before the publication of the above law in the official gazette,” said Patrice Mulama, the Council Executive Secretary.

Available statistics suggest there were up to 70 newspapers and about a dozen radios – with just a single local TV station.

All media organisations including the Rwanda News Agency – which also has a newspaper Grands Lacs Hebdo, were required to submit several documents including an operating business licence and CVs of senior staff. The practice was launched with the coming into force of the new media law in August 2009.

The last covers of Umuseso and Umuvugizi, for a while

The two were suspended in April for six months, and are now not on the list. The Media Council has a case in the courts seeking to have them banned completelyThe last covers of Umuseso and Umuvugizi, for a while

Looking at the list which was made public Wednesday, the notable absentees include controversial tabloids UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI which were suspended in April.

UMURABYO, whose editors Agnes Uwimana and Saidath Mukakibibi are facing prosecution over several charges, is also not on the list. Others missing are small publications that have largely been irregular on the market such as UMUSEKE.

“The Media High Council (MHC) congratulates all the law abiding media organs and their managers and requests them to keep up the effort of transforming the Rwandan media into a credible and decent profession that effectively contributes to national development,” said Mulama in a statement.

“All law enforcing organs are also hereby called upon to ensure compliance.”

Only German broadcaster DW – which has an FM frequency, is missing on the list of radios, which includes BBC.

The full list below:

Radios and TV

1. Radio Rwanda
2. Rwanda Television
3. Radio y’abaturage ya Huye
4. Radio y’abaturage ya Rusizi
5. Radio y’abaturage ya Rubavu
6. Radiyo y’abaturage ya Musanze
7. Radiyo y’abaturage ya Nyagatare
8. Radio 10
9. Flash FM
10. Contact FM
11. City Radio
12. Radio Isango Star
13. Radio Maria
14. Radio Izuba
15. Radio Salus
16. Amazing Grace Radio
17. Voice of Hope
18. Umucyo Community Radio
19. BBC

Newspapers

1. The New Times
2. Izuba rirashe
3. Imvaho Nshya
4. La Nouvelle Releve
5. Umwezi
6. Rwanda News Agency/Grand Lac Hebdo
7. Ishema
8. East African Business Week
9. Huguka
10. Oasis Gazette
11. Rugari
12. Kinyamateka
13. Isimbi
14. Umusanzu
15. Le Reveil
16. Amahoro
17. Impamo
18. Amani
19. Umusingi
20. Imanzi
21. Ibiyaga bigali
22. Rwanda Focus

Source: High Media Council

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July 29, 2010   No Comments

‘Average Citizen’ is key to change in Rwanda

An Opposition Focus in Rwanda

Kagame Bloody Hands

Kagame is now seen as hogging power

Rwanda has experienced some turmoil since the beginning of the year when presidential hopeful Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza returned to the country after 16 years in exile. In the wake of her return, events quickly unfolded that, so far at least, seem to have pulled back the curtain to expose the true intent of the regime in Kigali.
Supporters of the regime switched from singing its praises and how it was a “beacon” in the region, to claiming that Rwanda needs action at the moment more than it needs democracy.
As a result, Kagame is now seen as hogging power and more of a dictator than a democratically-elected leader.

Kagame is a man of many admirers and about as many critics. Yet, to all, it is clear that he is not interested in a conventional democracy. The opposition, and many foreign critics, have jumped on this fact and called for him to step down, either voluntarily or through elections, to allow for a more democracy-conducive atmosphere. However, if there is no Kagame, who can take the reins in Rwanda and prevent what could possibly rival the 1994 genocide and its bloodshed?

The key – and what the opposition should be focused on – is targeting the average citizen to change their mindset. Many in the middle and upper social classes have a lot of interest vested in the current regime that they don’t want to, or are afraid to, see things change. The average citizen, poor and largely uneducated beyond a few years of primary school, is the pawn without which the game cannot be won.

In 1994, the majority of the killings were not carried out by the army, but by regular people. The people were conditioned by a system of hate and paranoia that they were able to be exploited to achieve ends beneficial to a few strongmen. This same system that conditions them in this way, also, allows for the creation of strongmen such as Kagame.

The only way to retain power in such a system is to divide the citizens and play them against each other through fear-mongering. As soon as someone rises up to question the role of the RPF, the current ruling party in Kigali, they are accused of “genocide ideology,” a law so vague and convoluted that if it had a genuine purpose, it has since been lost. The Tutsi population, which is still hurting from 1994, is afraid that the numerically-superior Hutu are biding their time to finish what they weren’t able to finish. The Hutu look at the militarily-superior Tutsi and wonder when they will be fell upon in revenge. Both look to Kagame as a savior, and he relishes this role while allowing this climate of fear to fester.

This is why the focus should be on the system that creates such people as Kagame. The only way to change the system is to change the hearts and minds of the average citizens so that these exploitative tactics don’t work with them. Only the people will be able to prevent the rise of divisive strongmen from their midst. They have to be able to speak up for their rights, and be willing to lose their lives in the process, rather than cower in fear.

Yes, to many Kagame is a savior, but even Jesus, after saving the world from sin, did not stick around physically forever. Kagame, too, can step aside assured that, after 16 years, he can still guide the country through his actions while he was at the top…if those actions merit that.
To be a great president, you don’t need to single-handedly bring development to your nation. You don’t need to stay forever, and you definitely don’t need to suppress the free expression of ideas.
What you need is to inspire people to take their future in their hands. George Washington did not stay president forever even though he was offered the option.
Thomas Sankara, in his brief 4 years as president, turned an impoverished country around by empowering the people to control their own fate by building their country.
There are many like them, and they are what we need in Rwanda in order to attain true development.

Kagame might feel that the country is not ready to move on without him, but, like a parent of a teenager off to college for the first time, reality has to be faced. He has to trust that his guidance the past 16 years has settled into the minds of the people and that they will make good decisions based on that. Whether Rwanda succeeds or fails if he steps aside is unpredictable, what is predictable, however, is that Rwanda will suffer if he doesn’t.

Not yet, however, not until the opposition has been able to change the system and the people are ready to be led by someone who doesn’t require to be regarded as an overprotective parent. Then, and only then, will the successive rule of strongmen be over in Rwanda.

[Source: Exile Writer]

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July 29, 2010   No Comments