Kagame unleashes his warrior’s instincts
Kirehe (Rwanda) – Incumbent President Paul Kagame warned Wednesday on the latest campaign leg that he would stop at nothing to combat foreign support for what he described as so-called “illegitimate” opposition leaders.
In clear reference to FDU-Inkingi party leader Victoire Ingabire, Kagame said foreigners and even Rwandans should not be supporting her.
“Some foreigners say there is a woman who is fighting for Hutu rights and they want us to listen to that woman because she represents the majority, but which majority is that?” he said to the crowd in Kirehe district, in Eastern Rwanda.
“Which majority are they talking about because the majority is you people and Rwanda doesn’t belong to Hutu, Tutsi or Twa – it belongs to Rwandans.”
While this message has been delivered at various rallies throughout the week, none was more forceful than Kirehe’s. The crowd gathered at Kirehe was met by a stern-looking Kagame, pointing his finger and shaking his fist with more vigour than usual.
President Kagame came under criticism this week from exiled ex-spy chief Col Patrick Karegeya – now living in South Africa, who gave an interview to the Ugandan paper The Observer. In the story, he referred to Kagame as a dictator who would not leave power unless he was forced out by war.
“We owe nobody nothing!” Kagame said in the opening minutes of his speech, the only English phrase he used.
Juxtaposed with the condemnation of support for unrecognized opposition leaders was Kagame’s defense of Rwanda’s democracy. Rwandans are ready to fight for their rights and people should recognize this, he said.
“What the majority of Rwandans choose, you have to respect that, and if you don’t respect it then that’s disrespectful and undermining,” said Kagame.
Players such as Ingabire and other unrecognized opposition leaders are a threat to that democracy, he said, but Rwandans won’t succumb to such threats.
“Rwandans have won big fights in the past, and we will also win fights that some people want to impose on us,” he said.
“If you are foreigners or Rwandans, if you want to fight us we will fight back and we will win because it seems you don’t know Rwandans and the RPF, and you must know us, we are strong, we will fight back and we will win.”
Kagame campaigned in Kirehe on Wednesday and later moved to Ngoma – both in the east bordering Tanzania. He came with his wife Jeanette Kagame.
The Ngoma rally speech neither had the same forcefulness as Kirehe’s nor the same subject matter. Instead, Kagame spoke about the successes of the RPF in Rwanda and then proceeded to dance close to the chanting crowd with his wife.
A dusty haze filled the air as the Kagames danced and clapped their hands above their heads. Singing and cheering flowed from the thousands of supporters in attendance, and while the mood was high, the Kagame entourage exited through the middle of the crowd.