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Why General Kagame does not give a damn

paul-kagame-tough

Defiant General Kagame always says “I don’t care

Troubling contrasts

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was widely condemned for his repression against the opposition with the British Government leading the onslaught on Mugabe,
Saddam Hussein was overthrown by British American coalition for killing his own people,
Obiango Nguema of Equatorial Guinea is strongly criticised for his repressive system of government and President Bashir of Sudan is charged for genocide in Darfur.
On the other hand, the General Paul Kagame,
– who has openly used political violence as well as legal and administrative barriers against his critics including politicians and journalists;
– who chose to go to polls alongside his supporters to give a semblance of a contested election;
– who stands accused of having committed a terrorist act by ordering the shooting down a civilian plane killing two sitting heads of state on board hence triggering genocide in Rwanda,
– who is held to be largely responsible for the wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo which have cost an estimated 6 million lives while overseeing the plunder of the natural resources of the Congo,
that person remains the darling of the West with the British government leading the way and the US coming second in line of key supporters of the regime.

One explanation is that his ruthlessness makes him a good steward for international corporate interests, has very committed godfathers and pays well his PR firms.

Controversial elections

General Paul Kagame has been declared the winner of the 9th August elections by the Electoral commission, appointed by his ruling party RPF. He got a score of 93 % 6 points lower than his predecessor General Juvenal Habyarimana, whom he is alleged to have ordered the assassination, who scored 99% in 1988. His score also put him 2 points lower than Obiango Nguema of Equatorial Guinea (95. 4 in November 29, 2009 elections), whose regime is considered one of the most oppressive and undemocratic states in the world and only 6 points lower than President Kim Jung of North Korea who also scored 99, 99 % and 7 points lower than Saddam Hussein who scored 100% in 2002, one year before the Anglo-American invasion.
Like in Rwanda the elections were held in a very peaceful and orderly manner. However the elections in Rwanda are said to represent the will of the Rwandan people, the elections in those other counties are condemned by the West as undemocratic and not representing the will of the people.

All independent observers agree that the high score of Paul Kagame, like in all dictatorial regimes is due to repression, muzzling the media and ensuring that the real political contenders to powers are ruled out of the electoral process.

The regime set up administrative and legal barriers to block opposition political parties from registering and to prevent candidates from standing for the presidential elections.
FDU Inkingi, the main opposition party was not allowed to hold its congress and therefore not officially recognised. The chair of FDU Inkingi, Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, is still under house arrest, without freedom of movement following accusations of imaginary crimes.
The Green Party has not been registered either. It has been decapitated with the assassination on the 13th of July of its 1st Vice President Kagwa Rwisereka.
Bernard Ntaganda, President of the Socialist Party Imberakuri was put in jail.

Two newspapers, Umuvugizi and Umuseso critical of government were suspended and most its journalists forced into exile. One brave journalist who refused the advice of his colleagues to flee paid with his life. Rwanda was ranked 157th out of 179 countries in the 2009 Reporters without Borders press freedom index. This was the fourth lowest ranking in Africa, above only Eritrea, Somali and Equatorial Guinea.

One of his former close allies General Kayumba Nyamwasa who fled to South Africa, escaped assassination from those believed to be Rwanda government agents. South Africa has recalled its ambassador for consultation.

The difference between Paul Kagame and other dictators

The UK government is again leading in hailing the elections in Rwanda has “welcomed the peaceful and credibly administered Presidential Elections on 9 August. Rwanda has made huge strides since 1994 and these elections represent another important stage in the country’s development

This time round the US has partied company with the UK through a State statement which rights pointed out: “Democracy is about more than holding elections,” read the statement.

A democracy reflects the will of the people, where minority voices are heard and respected, where opposition candidates run on the issues without threat or intimidation, where freedom of expression and freedom of the press are protected.

As Robert Krueger who served as a U.S. congressman, senator, ambassador at large for Mexican affairs, ambassador to Burundi and later Botswana.The Paul Kagame I Know “makes a poignant reflection on the elections; “Many corporate leaders and economists will be pleased that the government of a Central African country claiming the fastest economic growth in its region has won again. Only justice, democracy, and the silent and terrified majority of the Rwandan population will have lost”

Paul Kagame has money to pay the best Public Relations Firms in London. Thus the success of PR Racepoint in selling Rwanda image has greatly improved its lucrative business and has extended its services to other governments notorious for their bad human rights record.

Above all Paul Kagame counts heavily on the connection, public image and advice of members of the Presidential Council who last met in March this year. The council was composed of the following people:

Kagame and members of his Presidential Advisory Council (PAC)

Kagame and members of his Presidential Advisory Council (PAC)
  1. Sir Tom Hunter – Scottish entrepreneur, philanthropist, co-founder Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative
  2. Dr. Donald Kaberuka – President of the African Development Bank Group, former Minister of Finance, Rwanda
  3. Dr. Clet Niyikiza – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Vice President of Worldwide Research & Development
  4. Kaia Miller – founder of Aslan Global, Inc.
  5. Joe Ritchie – Rwanda’s Honorary Consul in Chicago, founder Fox River Financial Resources, Inc and CEO of Rwanda Development Board.
  6. Michael Roux – Rwanda’s Honorary Consul General in Australia, Chairman, Asian Markets, KPMG; Roux International Pty Ltd; RI Group;
  7. Bishop John Rucyahana – Retired ex-Bishop of Shyira Diocese of Rwanda
  8. Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa – Rwandan Entrepreneur, Board President of Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency
  9. Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro – Assistant Professor at McGill University, Canada
  10. Pastor Rick Warren – Religious leader, founder Saddleback Church, and PEACE Plan.
  11. Prof. Michael Porter is also a member of PAC though he did not attend the launch.
  12. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
  13. Bel Dowson
  14. James Musoni, Rwanda’s minister of Finance
  15. Rosemary Museminari, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister ( now replaced by Louise Mushikiwabo)
  16. Gatare Francis, new Personal Representative of President Kagame to the NEPAD Steering Committee
  17. Himbara David, Private Secretary to President Kagame
  18. Kanimba François. Governor, Rwanda National Bank
  19. Michael Fairbank, Chairman Emeritus and founder of The OTF Group, a software and strategy consulting firm based in USA.

The group is responsible for offering strategic advice and guidance to the Rwandan Dictator General Paul Kagame, while the PR firms rewrite the history of Rwanda to give a moral justification to their enterprise. The council was officially launched in Kigali PAC on September 26, 2007 and is reported to be meeting in April and in September every year.

Paul Kagame backers must be happy with General Kagame’s assessment of Rwandans namely that they are so backward and not rational enough to be trusted with exercising their vote when faced with choosing between two or more opposed political programmes. It is left to Paul Kagame and his Party to decide when the Rwandan people can pass the test of using their vote rationally without being supervised. For the moment what Rwandans need is to fill their plates: stomach first and democracy thereafter.

This was made clear in his speech on the 16th anniversary of genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda; Paul Kagame talked straight to western backers in telling them: “Some of these who give us lessons have been on a journey of thousands of years to democracy and they want to wake up one morning and distort our situation

One of the advisors of Kagame, former Prime Minister of Britain Tony Blair seems to have backed down on his statement to the US Congress on the 18th of July 2003 and bowed to the wise assessment of Paul Kagame. Blair had stated in regard to the invasion of Iraq:

“Ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit and anywhere, anytime, ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same. Freedom not tyranny. Democracy not dictatorship. The rule of law not the rule of the secret police”. Strangely the statement does not apply to Rwandans.

However Blair throws a challenge to the rest of Rwandans, who are not part of the selected few in charge of their emancipation, setting out values worth fighting for:

  1. Freedom to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts.
  2. Freedom not to bend your knee to any man in fear.
  3. Freedom to be you so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others.

If Paul Kagame does not give a damn to being criticized for tyranny instead of freedom, dictatorship instead of democracy, police state instead of the rule of law and is backed by the international community and big business interests, it is indeed up to Rwandans to decide if they merit enjoying the freedoms set by Blair and if they are worth fights for. I don’t encourage the same methods used in Iraq that are destroying the country but rather carrying out the struggle using non violent means.

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August 16, 2010   7 Comments