Sham and miscarriage of democracy in Rwanda
By Robert Mukombozi.
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.
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.
[First published in The African Executive under title: “Rwanda Presidential Elections: A Trigger Democracy?”].