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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visits Rwanda one day after Kagame’s swearing-in

The UN Secretary General has arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday September 7 amid allegations by UN report that Rwanda troops may have committed genocide against Hutus in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1990’s.

The report, whose publication the United Nations has delayed until Oct. 1, said in the leaked draft that Rwandan troops may have committed genocide in the 1990s against Rwandan Hutus who had been driven into neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Following those allegations, Rwanda immediately announced it will stop its UN commitments and will pull out peacekeepers troops in Darfur if the UN goes ahead and publishes the report.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Ban flew into the Rwandan capital Kigali on the unannounced visit. He would meet later on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo and would see President Paul Kagame on Wednesday, Haq said.

Fearing that the UN would be tempted to succumb to Kagame’s pressure and cover up Rwandan troops crimes, Rwandans and many observers have already expressed their concerns to the UN Secretary General and hope that the report will be published as it has been written by the UN experts. (see  “If you succumb to Kigali’s pressure, you will be held responsible”, UN Secretary is told )

September 7, 2010   No Comments

Exiled Rwandan leaders call for Kagame ouster

paul-kagame-tough

With General Kagame, Rwanda is literally again on the brink of an abyss

NAIROBI — Rwandans and the international community need to work together to end President Paul Kagame’s rule and pave the way for a democratic transition, exiled leaders said in a report obtained by AFP Tuesday.

The 60-page document, co-authored by four former senior officials turned opponents in exile, paints a damning picture of the state of political and individual freedoms in the small genocide-scarred central Africa nation.

A minority government as repressive and unaccountable as Rwanda’s current regime cannot remain in office forever,” said the report.

The people of Rwanda, together with rest of the international community, have a moral duty to work to end this repressive system of government. Rwanda is literally again on the brink of an abyss,” it said.

Kagame was sworn in for a second — and what should be a final — term in office Monday at a ceremony attended by 40,000 supporters and regional heads of state, a month after sweeping to re-election with 93 percent of the vote.

Rights groups have consistently decried the lack of freedom in Rwanda and slammed what they described as a climate of fear during an electoral campaign marred by arrests and killings.

The report, authored notably by two prominent security officials who claim to have been the target of government persecution and currently reside in South Africa, called for an inclusive dialogue on the future of the country.

“Implementation of the outcome of dialogue could be entrusted to a coalition government that includes the opposition that is currently excluded from political participation,” the document said in its conclusion.

Among the authors are General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, who survived a June assassination attempt in South Africa, and Patrick Karegeya, a former intelligence chief who fled Rwanda in 2007.

The other two are Theogene Rudasingwa, a former Kagame chief of staff and ambassador to the United States, and Gerald Gahima, former prosecutor general and vice president of the supreme court.

Kagame, who has ruled Rwanda since his rebel group ended the 1994 genocide against his Tutsi minority, is facing a growing challenge from former comrades-in-arms who are now accusing him of dictatorial tendencies.

[AFP]

September 7, 2010   No Comments

Victoire Ingabire disappointed by Kagame’s swearing-in address

by Victoire Ingabire.

This Monday September 6th 2010, General Kagame was sworn in for another seven year term in office. In his address to the Rwandan people and friends of Rwanda, the United Democratic Forces regret that he evaded the key issues that threaten our country and which relate to the principles of democracy and human rights and good governance.

While more and more people are voicing their call for a highly inclusive national dialogue, the FDU-Inkingi are surprised that General Paul Kagame continues to ridicule those who advocate non-violence to solve the thorny problem of Rwanda. Indeed, in its militaristic style, the president concluded his speech in the national language by these unfortunate words: “We defeated those who were in arms; we will equally defeat those without arms.” a clear allusion to the democratic opposition

Regarding calls for more political openness, Paul Kagame said that “Africans do not need democracy but rather to fight against poverty“. Democracy is a universal value and to claim that Africans do not need it is sheer dictatorship and contempt vis-à-vis all the African peoples. Africans do not have to choose between “stomach” and democracy.

Moreover, the failure of government policy in fighting against poverty is obvious. Farmers in the North and East of the country which used to be the country’s food securest areas are today experiencing severe hunger because the regime imposed on them a brutal agricultural regionalization schemes. An all out cash crops agricultural in a subsistence economy will ultimately lead to food insecurity in the country.

The population was also expecting the President to justify the choice of his government to foster the development of the city of Kigali to the detriment of rural areas where more than 80% of the population lives.

For FDU-Inkingi it is absurd to promise economic miracles for the next term in office, so long as the so called Vision 2020 that the government uses as a smoke screen to critics and investors, will not be extensively reviewed to take into accounts the realities of rural areas.

He also mentioned the promotion of education. The FDU-Inkingi denounce the gap between promises and achievements of President Kagame during the last 16 years of his regime. Indeed, the current education system is a two-tier system: a system developed for the elite in government and the rich, and a system of “trial and errors” for the rest of the population. Thus, the current 9-4-4 system only applies to public schools where poor children go and does not apply to private schools.

The Rwandan people finally expected that the president shed light on very serious charges brought against his army and government by the United Nations, during the invasion of DRC in 1996-2003. Instead he swept them under the carpet and tried to put them on the shoulder of foreigners and human rights organization, scapegoats for all the ill doing of Rwandans. Instead of taking note of these charges and promising full cooperation with international justice so as to bring to book the guilty, he unleashed his anger against those who demand accountability. It is an insult to the Congolese and Rwandan victims

It is a double standards policy to use UN reports to indict opposition members and cry foul when the same organization calls for accountability in so serious crimes against humanity and war crimes genocide.

The move to blame every time the international community for failures of governance and for crimes committed by all sides in Rwanda and whichever ethnic groups, is a blatant denial of our responsibilities. Foreigners are not responsible for the murder of the vice president of the Green Party or for the journalist Rugambage. They are not responsible for the crack down on opposition members.

The FDU-Inkingi are of the opinion that the ethnic problems that poison all corners of the country’s life are not a creation of foreigners. It’s a reality we must all face.

The FDU-Inkingi, like other members of Permanent Consultative Council of the opposition, are convinced that in order to avoid chaos and ensure stability, the regime should take leaf from neighbouring countries and accept direct talks between government and the opposition. Both would discuss the best way of ensuring a full transition to good governance, national unity, reconciliation and stability in Rwanda. Talking to the opposition is not a sign of weakness but of good leadership.

Kigali September 6, 2010

Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
President of FDU- Inkingi

September 7, 2010   No Comments

Speech by General Paul Kagame on Inauguration Day – Kigali 6 September 2010

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Kagame’s Swearing ceremony

Excellencies, Heads of State and Government;

Excellencies, Heads of Delegations;

Leaders of Rwanda’s High Institutions;

Distinguished Guests;

Friends of Rwanda;

Fellow Rwandans;

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all. I extend a special greeting to my sisters and brothers, Heads of State and Government, who graciously accepted our invitation to be part of this occasion.

Excellencies, your presence here is a shining example of African solidarity. On behalf of the people of Rwanda, I thank you most sincerely and, through you, express our unwavering unity with fellow Africans across the continent.

Among us also are friends of Rwanda from different parts of the world. We appreciate your friendship and support, and consider you valuable partners in our development journey.

Fellow Rwandans – I stand before you greatly honoured by your renewed trust and confidence; and mindful of the responsibility you have bestowed upon me, to lead our country in this new mandate, and the new challenges that come with it. I pledge to do my best, as I have always done, in order to meet your expectations.

Excellencies;

Dear Friends:

One month ago, Rwandans made their choice in the most emphatic and unequivocal manner. They freely exercised their inalienable right to make decisions for themselves, especially those that most affect their lives. It is this will of our people that is the sole basis for the authority of government.

For more than a decade and a half now, the people of this country have increasingly come together as one, to determine and shape their destiny. They demonstrated their willingness to put national interest above all else, through a clear vote for unity, reconciliation and socio-economic transformation.

In the months and weeks preceding our elections, there was an onslaught of bad press reports from sections of the media and human rights organisations, that deliberately misrepresented the situation in Rwanda, and sought to give the impression that our country was, so to speak, falling apart. This led some to expect an eruption of violence, in line with the prejudiced way in which African affairs are viewed.

But Rwandans know what it means to sink to the lowest level possible, and we have learnt lessons the hard way. Over time and with progress made, Rwandans have redefined themselves and are determined to forge ahead. They made their point defiantly by campaigning enthusiastically, and voting in peace.

The experience of starting from a very low base, has shown us that rapid progress can only be achieved when the people for whom it is intended, are mobilised and participate fully in development efforts. That, in itself, is a democratic process.

As a result, we have seen tangible improvement of living conditions, expansion of access to education and health services for all. Our system of decentralisation, as well as investments in information and communication technologies are giving Rwandans a greater voice and opening them up to the world. All these factors are empowering citizens in a way that has not been seen in our recent history.

Why then should there be a contradiction between development and democracy? In fact, we hold the view that you cannot have sustainable socio-economic development without corresponding growth in democratic governance. And, in turn, political rights without a matching reduction of poverty and improved quality of life would be meaningless.

There is no doubt that we face many problems in Africa, and the biggest one of all, is not the lack of democracy, but poverty, and the dependence that comes with underdevelopment. It is this situation of dependence that allows some governments, and even NGOs – who are not accountable to anyone – to think they have a right to dictate the conduct of legitimate state actors.

African governments are often accused of being corrupt and not responsive to the needs of our populations. But when we do what every government is expected to do – deliver services; instil accountability, transparency and efficiency; build social and economic infrastructure; and raise living standards – the goalposts change, and we are then accused of forcing progress on the people and of being repressive. Furthermore, these external actors turn around, and promote the ideas of adventurers who have no legitimacy, and who do not relate to the majority of the people, and deserve nothing more than to be ignored.

This duplicity cannot be construed as confusion or lack of understanding. Rather, it is evidence of hypocrisy and a patronising attitude towards our entire continent, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty and underdevelopment, continues to deprive our people of their dignity, and which Africans must continue to stand up against.

What we really need are more tools and resources to implement ideas that are relevant to our circumstances – this is what partnership is all about.

Excellencies;

Fellow citizens:

The most successful societies are those that have achieved a certain level of national cohesion and rally around common national interests. This is why we have found it important to revive the cultural bonds on which our society was founded, and used our energies and resources to restore a dignified nation.

We are constantly told that our politics should be organised along ethnic lines, ignoring the fact that these so-called ethnic divisions are not inherently Rwandan political classifications, but rather colonial constructs.

This approach may work in other places, but in our case, divisive politics and extremism led to the tragedy we witnessed in our country not long ago. And this is the reason Rwandans voted to reject this kind politics.

Of course, pursuing national unity does not blind us to the value of diversity and the benefits that come with it.

Similar to other countries, it simply means that our common interests supersede what separates us.

Our practical experience has taught us to deal with the toughest challenges. We have had to manage countless orphans and supported hundreds of thousands of widows; repatriated millions of refugees and settled them back into society; reintegrated thousands of soldiers who served in the genocidal government; administered a difficult restorative justice process, which has built bonds between victims and perpetrators of genocide. And all of this would not have been possible without a political system of where power is shared to unite rather than divide.

Given this background, it is difficult for us to comprehend those who want to give us lessons on inclusion, tolerance and human rights.

Habitual critics of Rwanda may say what they want, but they will neither dictate the direction we take as a nation, nor will they make a dent in our quest for self-determination. And we therefore categorically reject all their accusations.

This does not spare us from constantly looking at ourselves critically. We need to continue to govern effectively, provide expected public goods and empower our citizens. Our motivation and reward for staying the course of the choices we make, is to witness the transformation the lives of our peoples.

Excellencies;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

Fellow Rwandans:

We are moving to the next stage of development and prosperity. If what we have achieved together so far is any indication, even better awaits us in the years to come.

We will continue to ensure food security; provide better education and health for all; promote trade and investment; and build modern infrastructure that responds to the direct needs of our citizens, including access to clean water, and energy to power homes, schools, health centres and industry.

We will also promote economic and political participation of all our citizens, as well as deepen empowerment of our women and girls; and ensure that our people have the skills necessary to succeed in a competitive world.

We will advance regional integration, and nurture good relations with our neighbours, because we share the similar aspirations and continue to work for the wider integration of our continent.

In conclusion, fellow Rwandans, I make this solemn pledge to you: together, we shall tackle the job ahead of us with courage and resolve, in order to consolidate our achievements and build a country in which every Rwandan exercises their responsibility and has equal opportunities.

Let us march together, in solidarity with the rest of our continent. Let us stand tall, tap into the rich tapestry of our societies, and build a nation and a continent we are proud to call ours.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

[PaulKagame]

September 7, 2010   2 Comments

Kagame says ‘not scared about critics without guns’

kagame-by-cummings

“Habitual critics of Rwanda may say what they want, but they will never dictate the direction we take as a nation, nor will they make a dent on our quest for self determination,” said Kagame.

Kigali – General Kagame took oath yesterday on September 6 to protect the Rwandan Constitution and the sovereignty of the country from all sorts of aggression either internal or external.
In his inauguration speech, General Kagame told his bitter critics outside the country that he is not bothered unless they start fighting him with guns. In a firry 27-minute speech which he delivered first in English, then summarized in Kinyarwanda, Kagame accused the foreign governments of supporting his vocal opponents whom he described as “adventurers”.

“What we reject are those lessons we constantly receive, [and] the daily lies leveled against us… we defeated those with arms, we cannot be defeated by those with nothing but just hands,” said Kagame, as the stadium erupted in wild cheering.

He said in the “months and weeks preceding our elections there [was] an onslaught of bad press reports” from western press and right organizations. These news reports, Kagame said, “deliberately misrepresented the situation in Rwanda.”

“[They] sought to give the impression that there was something terribly wrong going on in our country…so to speak, as if the country was really falling apart. This made some to expect an eruption of violence in line with the prejudice in which African affairs are viewed,” said the Kagame.

He said Rwandans cannot listen to those he called “habitual critics of Rwanda” as the Rwandan people have “redefined themselves and are determined to forge ahead”.

“They made their point defiantly by campaigning emphatically and enthusiastically, and voting in big [number],” said Kagame amid applause.

No contradiction in Rwanda

General Kagame then turned his fire on the criticism which has mainly come from donors and rights groups, whom he said have repeatedly said there is a “contradiction” in Rwanda because there is development but no democracy.

“In fact, we hold the view that you cannot have sustainable development without corresponding growth in democratic governance,” he said.

For Kagame, “political rights without the matching reduction of poverty and improved quality of life, would be meaningless.”

According to General Kagame, who now starts a seven-year term as President of Rwanda, the biggest problem Africa faces is “not the lack of democracy but poverty and the dependence which comes with under development”.

For Kagame, when the west sees that the notion of democracy does not fit their understanding, “they shift the goal posts” – claiming the government is becoming repressive.

Nobody will dictate direction for Rwanda

Moving into the achievements of his previous government including reconciliation, Kagame said all would “not have been possible without a political system where power is shared to united rather than divide”.

“Given this background, it is difficult to comprehend those who want to give us lessons of inclusion, tolerance and human rights,” said Kagame amid more applause, but mainly from the elite who understood the English.

“Habitual critics of Rwanda may say what they want, but they will never dictate the direction we take as a nation, nor will they make a dent on our quest for self determination,” he added.

In what seemed like a response from him personally to the leaked UN report accusing Rwandan forces of massacring Hutus over a 10 year period in DR Congo, General Kagame was stern in just a sentence.
“And we therefore categorically reject all their accusations,” he said. And at some point, General Kagame said the foreign critics will not force opposition groups he called “adventurers” on the country. He did not elaborate on who the adventurers are.

In Kinyarwanda

For Rwandans, he said that he takes the “solemn pledge” to build a country where everybody “exercises their responsibility and have equal opportunities.”

After completing his 20-minute address, he asked the massive crowd whether they had understood – to which some could be heard responding “NO!” – marked with loud chanting and applause. He then spent the next seven minutes summarizing the speech in Kinyarwanda.

Referring to western critics and donors, he told the crowd amid chanting that there are those who have given themselves the responsibility to monitor what others do.

“They condemn the good things we do and instead recommend for us the bad ones they do,” said Kagame amid more prolonged applause, before adding that the voters showed during the elections that they understand the origin, current situation and the future.

“[The elections] made clear to them that we reject disrespect,” added Kagame, also saying that Rwandan “lost value because of [outsiders], and we will never go back”.

In a hint at African solidarity, General Kagame offered to cooperate with other countries to collaborate in tackling the problems on the continent.

[Adapted from ARI-RNA]

September 7, 2010   No Comments