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Sham and miscarriage of democracy in Rwanda

By Robert Mukombozi.

President Kagame, wife Janet, son Cyomoro and daughter Ange present themselves to the population during July electoral campaign.

President Kagame, wife Janet, son Cyomoro and daughter Ange present themselves to the population during July electoral campaign.

When President Paul Kagame opened the window for a democratic ballot system, which led to his landslide victory in 2003, the spirit and hopes of Rwandans flung up. It was a dawn of hope-with pretty much anticipation the political terrain would gradually shift from authoritarian, turning Rwanda into a hotbed of democracy. That hope has died. Rwandans have lost hope and they now resort to silence.

It would be healthy if the masses had a public platform to decide on the fate of their destiny. Unfortunately, fear has clouded the once genocide plagued state because you will never know who you are talking to.

“Rwandans have lost hope and they now resort to silence.”

“The hearts of Rwandans are bleeding as a result of extreme oppression.”

“The elections will definitely be a sham and a miscarriage of democracy in Rwanda. It is only unfortunate that there is no option; Rwandans will have to vote RPF back in office under the gun.”

“Previous leaders have torn the pride of Rwanda. And they have all gone without a trail legacy.”

R. Mukombozi.

Andre Kagwa Rwisereka is the recent victim of Kagame’s military hand, the latest politico to be slain in a wave of politically motivated killings. Before his murder, the former Green Party first Vice-President reported he was being threatened by unknown people claiming they frustrated his business, the New Somborero Club because of his political affiliation.

His killing came in the footsteps of journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage.
Other independent journalists who have dared Kagame’s tyranny among others Jean Bosco Gasasira, Charles Kabonero, Didas Gasana, Furaha Mugisha have been exiled.

The future for politicians such as Deo Mushayidi, PS Imberakuri’s Bernard Ntaganda, FDU-Inkingi’s Victoire Ingabire and Green party’s Frank Habineza is very uncertain.
On October 30, 2009 the Green party supporters were publicly humiliated during a congress held in Kigali at St Paul.
The party members were beaten by the RPF’s notorious youth wing, which forced its way into the conference hall and beat up the members.

Their colleagues managed to race into exile previously when they had the chance but for this column of politicos battling a chain of cases, there is little or no chance of escaping persecution.

Kagame had attempted to play his political maneuvers brilliantly. But, the way he used the forum of political parties to disorganise PS Imberakuri, an opposition party and the blocking of the FDU-Inkingi and the Green party from contesting in the August presidential elections have sold him nothing more than a ticket of guilt in the face of political analysts.

The elections will definitely be a sham and a miscarriage of democracy in Rwanda. It is only unfortunate that there is no option; Rwandans will have to vote RPF back in office under the gun.

‘Crack in the army’

The Rwanda Defence Forces is deeply divided. Col. Patrick Karegeya, the former chief of external security and the charismatic soldier Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, the former chief of staff are in exile. Lt. Gen. Charles Muhire, the former chief of the Air force and Maj. Gen. Karenzi Karake are in detention.

Military prosecution has tactically failed to proceed with Muhire’s fabricated charges of corruption and abuse of office. To deepen the crack within the army, Kagame has ordered the military tribunal, according to military sources; to press charges against Gen. Karake linking him to an affair with the wife of colleague Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, the Force Commander of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

As the RDF senior command ponders on the next move to be taken in the sensitive case of Generals Muhire and Karake, a new set of soldiers has also been placed on the firing line. About 1,900 RDF troops have been forcefully discharged. They add to two other senior commanders, Col. Kamili Karege (commandant of the Rwanda Military Academy in Gako), and Col. John Bosco Mulisa (Brigade Commander of RDF’s 402 Brigade), who were suspended together with a senior presidential adviser on Defence and Security, Brig. Gen John Bosco Kazura.

All these senior military officers are actually being cracked down in a conspiracy by a section of military intelligence and National Security Service personnel blackmailing them in an alleged coup d’état against Kagame.

Brig. Gen. Jack Nziza (Defence Permanent Secretary), Lt Col. Emmanuel Ndahiro (National Security Service), and Lt. Col. Joseph Nzabamwita (External Security Organisation) have been widely implicated in this manhunt of politicians and soldiers.

It is alleged that the coup plot is being masterminded by the popular Washington DC based His Royal Highness King Kigeli V, which has increased suspicion within the army and caused much discomfort to Kagame who now suffers the pressure of ‘an enemy within.’

The presidency has become synonymous with corruption. Kagame has failed to account, before parliament, for owning two $100 million XR Executive Jets which he hires to himself and makes at least two trips to America-visiting his son at West Point military academy.

According to high profile sources, the minimum cost for each trip is close to $1 million. The two aircraft were bought by government money and registered in the names of a pseudo company. It is also alleged that Kagame owns the embassy building in London but he has deliberately decided to remain guarded over the matter.

Rwanda has a number of political parties; the RPF, Democratic Republican Movement (Mouvement démocratique républicain), Christian Democratic Party (Parti démocratique chrêtien), Islamic Democratic Party (Parti démocratique islamique), Rwandan Socialist Party (Parti socialiste rwandais), Democratic Union of the Rwandan People (Union démocratique du People rwandais), Social Democratic Party (Parti social démocrate), Liberal Party (Parti libéral) and Party for Progress and Concord (Parti pour le Progrès et la Concorde) among others.

Out of these, a few have managed to fight against the tide. Parties like the Democratic Republican Movement, Christian Democratic Party, Islamic Democratic Party, Rwandan Socialist Party and the Democratic Union of the Rwandan People only exist in the archives. These issues have been swept under the carpet.

Previous leaders have torn the pride of Rwanda. And they have all gone without a trail legacy.

Kagame is definitely going to win the election capitalising on a shaken and intimidated electorate but deep within, the hearts of Rwandans are bleeding as a result of extreme oppression. The only question now is; Whether he still has time to continue suppressing the spirit of a people.

Robert Mukombozi is an Investigative Rwandan journalist exiled in Australia. He is a Masters of Journalism and Mass Communication student at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.
Contact: RMukombozi@gmail.com

[First published in The African Executive under title: “Rwanda Presidential Elections: A Trigger Democracy?”].

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July 28, 2010   2 Comments

Africa advocates to Obama: Don’t recognize Kagame’s election

Support real freedom and democracy in Africa

by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, Friends of the Congo, Hotel Rwanda/Rusesabagina Foundation, International Humanitarian Law Institute of Minnesota, Institute for Policy Studies, Mobilization for Justice and Peace in Congo.

Kagame Bloody Hands

In mid-July in Spain, Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero refused to meet with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was visiting for a U.N. conference, after human rights defenders urged him not to and protesters took to the streets chanting “Kagame! War Criminal!”

President Obama said, in his 2009 speech in Accra, Ghana, that America should support strong institutions and not strong men. However, in the case of Rwanda, this has been no more than rhetoric. Rwandans, like most Africans, cheered Obama’s election, hoping that it might signal a new, more peaceful and cooperative relationship between the U.S. and Africa, but Obama has expanded AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, and now he remains silent as Rwanda’s strongman, President Paul Kagame, prepares a sham presidential election to retain his brutal grip on power.

On Aug. 3, in Washington D.C., we, a coalition of Africa advocates, will gather at the National Press Club to call on President Obama and the U.S. State Department not to recognize the legitimacy of Rwanda’s upcoming Aug. 9 election results and to stop militarizing Africa and supporting repressive regimes.

“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.”

Kagame with Obama

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greeted representatives of U.N. member countries at the Metropolitan Museum in New York on Sept. 23, 2009. Here, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stands between them. – Photo: irwanda1.com

Assassinations, arrests, disappearances, imprisonment and torture of both politicians and press critical of Kagame have led up to Rwanda’s Aug. 9 presidential polls, and now the question is not “Will Rwanda’s August 2010 election be free and fair?” but “How much more violence will the population suffer from Rwandan police, military and security operatives?”

And how much longer will President Obama continue to support the brutal Kagame regime in the heart of Africa, even though 40 of Kagame’s top officers and officials have been indicted in both Spanish and French courts for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide? Kagame himself has not been indicted by these courts but only because he is a sitting head of state and indictment would therefore be a declaration of war.

Anti-Kagame Protest In Spain - July 2010

Spanish protesters in mid-July want Kagame held accountable for genocide. Still applauded by the mainstream press only a few months ago, Kagame's record is now being questioned and condemned by some of the most influential media in the world.

“Kagame is doing everything he can think of, including killing journalists, jailing and torturing political opponents and denying political opponents their constitutional right to register their parties to exclude them from the election. Because as soon as he loses the presidency, he is likely to be tried for all the mass killings he ordered,” says Rwandan exile, writer and activist Aimable Mugara, who now lives in Toronto.

All the viable opposition has been kept out of the election, but four Kagame allies have agreed to stand so as to make it appear that Rwanda is having a real election.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chair FDU.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Rwanda's leading challenger to Kagame, is under house arrest and banned from the Aug. 9 ballot.

Leading presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who was arrested and indicted on trumped up charges to prevent her from registering to run against Kagame, has said that she will not vote and has urged other Rwandans not to vote either. “We know that the military and police will use violence against the population,” Ingabire said, “but we have to fight for our rights. There is no reason to vote if you don’t have a choice.”

In May, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson announced that the U.S. government plans to send a dozen teams of election observers to Rwanda before the Aug. 9 polls, but many Rwandans now say they will only be wasting U.S. taxpayers’ money.
“There is no reason to vote if you don’t have a choice.” – Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

“Why do people seriously think of going there to observe elections?” asked Charles Kambanda, an American of Rwandan origin, former member of Kagame’s RPF Party and former professor at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. “Which elections are they going to observe? There is nothing to be observed, because what we have is a one-man show. What we have is a situation where the government has created the so-called opposition.

Great Lakes Region

Great Lakes Region. In this pre-1997 map, Congo is shown as Zaire.

“The RPF has kicked out all the real opposition leaders. They are either under house arrest, like Victoire Ingabire, or in prison or they are already dead or they are in exile.”

“Foreign election observers planning to go to Rwanda to observe the ‘election’ this August are wasting time and money,” said Aimable Mugara. “I would recommend that they stay in their countries and write their reports based on all the insane actions Gen. Kagame’s ruling party has taken since the beginning of this year, actions that make this so-called election null and void.”

The United States government has provided not only election observers but also over $1,034,000,000 in United States taxpayer-funded foreign assistance to Rwanda since 2000. An additional $240,200,000 is proposed in the president’s fiscal year 2011 budget.

For more information, call Friends of the Congo at (202) 584-6512 or email rwandaelections@gmail.com.

[First published on SfbayView]

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July 28, 2010   3 Comments