Rwanda Information Portal

Posts from — November 2010

Rwanda Greens Vice president murder taken to UN

Our colleague Frank Habineza, founder and leader of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and also President of the African Greens Federation and Co-Africa Representative to Global Greens Coordination (GGC), has circulated a letter to the UN Secretary General, requesting an Independent Investigation into the alleged assassination of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s First Vice President, Andre Kagwa RWISEREKA, who was found be-headed on 14 July 2010.

The letter comes from his family. The Rwandan Opposition Consultative Council also demanded an independent inquiry in July 2010 and Human Rights Watch called for an Independent Autopsy.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda seeks justice for its Vice President.

There is a lot of intimidation and threats directed at Green Party members in Kigali and a serious character assassination and dehumanization campaign against the Green Party Leader (Frank Habineza), accusing him of being a non-national. It is thought that there is a plan to overthrow him from the Party Leadership and replace him with a stooge and then register the Party. The Green Party was unable to compete in the recent rigged elections in Rwanda, because its attempts to register as a party were blocked by Kagame’s goons.

It it the duty of all Green Parties and greens to continue to stand with Rwanda and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.

It is to the shame of the Commonwealth that the Secretary General is not responding to letters on this matter. Sadly, it seems that the Commonwealth no longer cares about human rights, only about commerce.


November 30, 2010   1 Comment

Video: Paul Kagame admits slaughtering refugees in Congo

Paul Kagame admits slaughtering Rwandan refugees in Congo and regrets not to have killed more. Listen to his own words:

November 29, 2010   3 Comments

Video: American attorney Peter Erlinder speaks of his jail time in Rwanda

American attorney Peter Erlinder speaks of his jail time in Rwanda (Seen live on DetriotCityTV).

November 26, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda starts sale of its shares in brewer Bralirwa

Rwanda said on Monday it would raise 22.1 billion Rwandan francs from the sale of its 30 percent stake in brewer Bralirwa, the first initial public offering in the central African country.

Finance Minister John Rwangombwa told a news conference the government would sell 128.6 million shares, or 25 percent of the company, at 136 francs. He said the shares were valued at 170 francs but offered at a discount to encourage buyers.

The other 5 percent of the government’s stake will be sold to the Heineken Group, which already holds the remaining 70 percent of Bralirwa.

The share offer runs from November 23 to December 17.

Bralirwa sells brands such as Amstel, Guinness, Mutzig and Primus, a local brand. It bottles Coca Cola products.

Rwanda launched its over-the-counter bourse in January 2008 and the IPO is part of the government’s strategy to strengthen the country’s nascent capital markets.

The exchange has so far mainly attracted Treasury and corporate bonds although it now also boasts two cross-listed Kenyan companies –Kenya Commercial Bank and Nation Media Group.

Earlier this month, the bourse said it had cut taxes in line with recommendations in East African common market proposals to attract investors and issuers.

Withholding tax on dividends on listed companies is now 5 percent, down from 15 percent. Tax interest on listed bonds with a maturity of three years is now 5 percent from 15 percent and corporate income taxes were reduced to the lower rates ranging from 28 percent to 20 percent.

The government is set to sell off its 10 percent stake in mobile operator MTN Rwanda. The South African-based MTN Group has a 55 percent stake in the Rwandan operation.

Rwanda also plans to sell a 20 percent stake in the country’s biggest insurer, Sonarwa (Societe Nouvelle d’Assurance du Rwanda). Nigeria’s IGI owns a 35 percent stake in the firm.

[International Business Times]

November 26, 2010   No Comments

Kagame wants US law professor Peter Erlinder brought to Rwanda, ‘dead or alive’

By Ann Garrison.

Professor Peter Erlinder, with the shaved head and pink prison costume that opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, whom he traveled to Rwanda to defend, wears now.

According to high-level Rwandan officials present at a meeting in Kigali in mid-October, President Kagame ordered that Minnesota’s William Mitchell Law Professor Peter Erlinder be brought back to Rwanda “dead or alive.”

Professor Erlinder is a longstanding critic not only of President Paul Kagame, but also of the U.S. Pentagon and State Department’s manipulation of regional forces in East/Central Africa, and of U.S. use of Rwandan soldiers as military proxies on the African continent.

However, the U.S. is now, in accordance with its Constitutional obligation to protect its own citizens’ and their freedom of speech, obliged to protect Professor Erlinder, as his Minnesota Senators and Congressional Representatives insisted when he was under arrest in Rwanda in May and June of this year.

Former members of the government, now in exile, reported that Kagame said “Erlinder’s release was a mistake” and that he and Paul Rusesabagina of Hotel Rwanda fame, were responsible for drawing worldwide attention to the detailed 600-page UN report released Oct. 1, that exposes the role of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front and its army in the Congo “genocide” 1993-2003.

Erlinder notified federal and local law enforcement and the State Department of the threat from Kagame and requested protection both for himself and for the confidential source.

Regarding a return to Rwanda under these circumstances, Erlinder said:

“On Oct. 6, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda declared the prosecution against me illegal under UN immunity rules, and I have no obligation to answer an illegal prosecution. Since my illegal arrest, UN reports of mass-murder by the Kagame regime in Rwanda and Congo, as well as assassinations and trumped-up prosecutions of Kagame’s opponents, make clear that returning to Rwanda would be suicide for anyone Kagame considers a threat to his absolute power.”

Nearly all opposition leaders have been arrested, or killed in the past four months. The Rwandan government’s New Times, reported last week that Rusesabagina’s Hotel Rwanda Foundation was part of an Obama administration and UN conspiracy to discredit the Kagame regime. Last year Rwanda’s Ambassador publicly accused career U.S. State Department officer and former Ambassador to Rwanda, Robert Flaten, of supplying “guns to the genocidaires” at a meeting organized by Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Rwanda's FDU-Inkingi opposition leader Victoire Ingabire in Rwanda's High Court with the shaved head and in prisoner's pink clothes

FDU-Inkingi Party
Rwanda’s FDU-Inkingi opposition leader Victoire Ingabire in Rwanda’s HIgh Court, with the shaved head and pink garb of Rwandan prisoners that Professor Peter Erlinder wore in Rwanda in May and June.

Erlinder also said:

“As Kagame’s ‘enemies’ list’ grows, the accusations take on the stench of desperation which only makes the regime all the more dangerous anywhere in the world, and I must take the death threats seriously. UN documents in evidence at the UN Tribunal show Kagame is responsible for the Rwandan Genocide already and RPF culpability for 6-million deaths in the Congo is now public too. A regime capable of these crimes is capable of eliminating its opponents anywhere it can reach them.”

Professor Erlinder also says that, if he is prosecuted a second time, Rwanda will only further confirm the importance of the “Rwanda Documents Project” that he has collected and put into evidence at the UN Tribunal for Rwanda that exposed the role of Kagame and the RPF in the “Rwandan Genocide” and provide further credibility to the threat the documents pose to the legitimacy of Africa’s most bloody dictatorship.

[Digital Journal]

November 26, 2010   1 Comment

Rwandan Military Court Summons Nyamwasa and 3 Others

A Rwandan military court summoned the ex-army chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, and three other former officials to answer terrorism charges, the army spokesman said.

Nyamwasa, now a critic of President Paul Kagame, was hospitalized after he was shot in the stomach at his home in South Africa in June. The court said he, ex-Rwandan spy chief Patrick Karegeya, Major Theogene Rudasingwa, the country’s first envoy to the U.S., and former Prosecutor-General Gerard Gahima should appear by Dec. 15, Lieutenant-Colonel Jill Rutaremara said today.

The four are to answer to charges of forming a terrorist group, ethnic divisionism and spreading harmful propaganda, Rutaremera said.

Before he fled in February, Nyamwasa was accused of being behind a series of grenade explosions that went off in Kigali, the capital. He denied the allegations.

Nyamwasa’s brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Rugigana Ngabo, serving as the Rwandan army’s commanding officer of the engineering regiment, was arrested Aug. 20 on charges of “individual criminal liability.”


November 18, 2010   2 Comments

UK supports Rwandan Regime accused of acts of genocide in Congo

by Ambrose Nzeyimana,
Organizing for Africa.

UK International aid to benefit a Rwandan regime accused of acts of genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo

A persistent unanswered question has been on the lips of everyone who has been observing conflicts and politics in different parts of the world. What are the criteria the Department for International Development (DfID) follows to distribute British taxpayers’ money as aid to different countries? Unless you assume there are hidden pointers that ordinary Westerners aren’t allow to know, no one would understand for example how Rwanda led by Paul Kagame could be one of the favourite beneficiaries, knowing that its record of human rights abuse is unprecedented.

Let’s forget the UN/ Gersony report of October 1994 or the Garreton report of 1997 which, though covered up and therefore not followed up, documented killing of thousands of Hutu population the first in Rwanda and the second in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But the UN report published on October 1st, thanks to its leaking by the newspaper Le Monde a month earlier, accuses openly the Rwandan Patriotic Army and its AFDL partner in war of having committed acts of genocide in DRC. Since October 14th, 2010, the President of Rwanda has imprisoned Ms Victoire Ingabire, leader of FDU-Inkingi, an important opposition personality on Rwandan ring-fenced political space, and this occurring without any clear condemnation from the international community.

On the Mo Ibrahim Index Rwanda scores 47.2% and stands at no. 31 out 53 African countries. For a reminder, this index measures annually four parameters across the continent. These are safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, human development. Overall the country has moved backwards by 2.2% from previous period of 2007/8. There has as well been a significant decrease in safety and rule of law by 8.4%, while in terms of sustainable economic opportunity, a 2.2% increase had been registered.

In its press freedom index, Reporters without Borders indicates that Rwanda was ranked 157th out of 175 countries in the 2009 listing. The country was featured among the four lowest African scorers of the record. Eritrea, Somalia and Equatorial Guinea were the only countries below Rwanda in the ranking. Transparency International has on the other hand referred to Rwanda as the least corrupt country in East Africa. But it is arguable because, according to the country’s critic, there may not be official corruption following the fact that Rwanda is a police state. As Transparency itself points it out, ‘it was unable to produce a comparison of how Rwanda’s institutions fared because reports of bribery were so low – and no Rwandan organization was included in the regional comparison.’ For example, the South African newspaper Sunday Times uncovered in February 2010 the case of two luxury jets worth around one hundred millions of US $ belonging to the Rwandan president, and this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

At a time of drastic measures that the British government is currently taking to deal with its massive deficit, very few departments have seen their budgets increased. International development is among the handful winners. Apparently the department budget is ring-fenced, but even there fundamental changes may be planned in its spending.  Anne McElvoy, writing in The Evening Standard, seems to be sceptical about supposed changes. ‘Ring-fencing of spending of international development, (which) means that less rigour will be applied there than in other areas – and in a department whose inefficiencies are legendary in Whitehall,’ she argues.

It has been announced that aid budget will mainly focus on ‘fragile states’ such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen and other countries deemed important for Britain’s national security, with less for prosperous nations such as India and China. The aim is seemingly to tackle underlying problems, such as poor education, governance and healthcare, which are exploited by militants seeking recruits for terrorism acts. However, such prioritisation supposes that hopefully, there won’t be any recruit from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi or Democratic Republic of Congo who will come to London to blow himself with other members of the public, since some of these countries could be as well called fragile states, when considered the total absence of political space for dissent voices.

Tim Whewell’s film, ‘What is the true price of Rwanda’s recovery’, which was shown on Newsnight in March 2010 on BBC Two, explained that whoever between Labour and Tories British political parties would’ve won the general elections, support to Paul Kagame’s regime would’ve remained. As for Britain’s role in supporting Rwanda, Mr. Cannon, British ambassador in Kigali, says that: ‘Although there are aspects of the country’s human rights that are not perfect – certainly we wouldn’t be here or doing what we’re doing if we didn’t think there was a commitment on the part of the government to the values we share.’ He points in particular to a shared commitment to pro-poor policies – thanks in part to British aid, the proportion of poor Rwandans fell from 70% of the population to 57% between 1994 and 2006. He however forgets to mention that in 1990, before the guerrilla war led by Paul Kagame, that proportion of poor Rwandans was according PNUD only 47%.

The particular treatment of Rwanda responds to a number of specific interests the country represents or defends for Britain in the Great Lakes region. French was replaced by English as national language, without any public consultation, despite the consequences of such decision on thousands of Rwandan public servants who had been educated in French for several generations. The Rwandan president was rewarded admission of his country to the Commonwealth though Rwanda and countries of the ex-British empire didn’t share any common heritage. Such admission maybe could’ve been tolerable at least if Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and other human rights organisations hadn’t vigorously denounced the level of human rights abuse by the Rwandan president.

But this was without considering current cuts that the coalition government Lib. Dem/ Conservatives would impose to the British nation or the exposure to compelling evidence of Paul Kagame’s crimes to the public which had turned a blind eye on his excesses because of his country’s recent history. Despite an increasing and unprecedented record of abuses of human rights particularly against Rwandan politicians from the opposition, Kigali doesn’t look worried to loose the support of Britain, this even after the publication of the UN report on crimes committed in DRC. The fact of pointing an accusatory finger to Paul Kagame seems to have rather radicalised his attitude towards his opponent politicians: Victoire Ingabire from the FDU-Inkingi and Me Bernard Ntaganda from Socialist Party Imberakuri are paying with tortures and imprisonment for the frustration of the Rwandan president. But this may not apply for Andre Rwisereka, vice-president of the Green Democratic Party of Rwanda who was apparently assassinated by the regime’s handlers in July 2010 for political reasons. On this particular case, Kigali has refused an independent inquiry into the death of this politician, but instead imprisoned probably innocent people to calm pressing calls for justice.

At the Conservative conference held a few months ago, the issue of human rights in Rwanda was apparently raised but couldn’t find any ear ready to listen to the point of concern. Those who tried to highlight the question found it played down because Rwanda is seen as a flagship for Britain in the matters of aid to development. But what the whole picture of support to Paul Kagame doesn’t tell is how that provided financial support enables Rwandan authorities to get a hand on Eastern Congo mineral resources with the complicity of private companies based in Western countries, or to oppress and legally discriminate among its citizens, and spread internationally its propaganda of being a success story in the midst of an African continent marred with conflicts and all sorts of negative clichés. Another hidden reality was uncovered by UN experts on the consequence of aid in the Great Lakes region. They found that, for example in the case of Uganda, ‘(it) gave the Government room to spend more on security matters while other sectors, such as education, health and governance, are being taken care of by the bilateral and multilateral aid,’ asserts the UN report of 2001 on ‘Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.’

In the light of current cuts, would British taxpayers continue to see their money which would have helped them or else to deal with ongoing tough times be spent as aid to development of dictatorial and oppressive governments such Rwanda, without asking pertinent questions to their leaders? I don’t think they would knowingly. As international aid budget is scheduled to increase during the current parliament, British public should be more attuned to asking from their ministers a minimum of criteria of human rights and press freedom, and democratic credentials, beneficiaries of British aid should comply with rigorously.

[The Rising Continent]

November 18, 2010   3 Comments

Rapprochement Rwanda-Congo is no guarantee for stability in Kivu

Congo: No Stability in Kivu despite Rapprochement with Rwanda

Africa Report N°165 16 Nov 2010


The plan to resolve the conflict in the Kivu by emphasising a military solution is failing. Two years after the rapprochement between Congolese President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, government soldiers are still battling militias for control of land and mines. Neither side has the strength to win, but both have the resources to prolong the fighting indefinitely. Meanwhile, civilians suffer extreme violence, and the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. Ethnic tensions have worsened in anticipation of the repatriation of tens of thousands of Congolese refugees who fled to Rwanda during the 1990s. The UN Security Council has witnessed the deterioration of security in eastern Congo without opposing the decisions of Kagame and Kabila. A strategy based on secret presidential commitments, however, will not bring peace to the Kivu: the present approach must be reevaluated and broadened in order to engage all local communities and prepare the future of the region in a transparent dialogue that also involves neighbouring countries.

During summer 2008, the National Congress of the People (CNDP), a Congolese rebel group then led by the Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda and backed clandestinely by Rwanda, withdrew from negotiations with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A major crisis erupted in the province of North Kivu, catching the Congolese authorities and the UN peacekeeping mission (then called MONUC) off guard. The international community, concerned about the consequences of a CNDP conquest of the capital of North Kivu, Goma, launched multiple initiatives to prevent an escalation that could lead to confrontation between Rwanda and the DRC.

In November 2008, President Kabila reached out to President Kagame, his long-time adversary, to end the crisis. Without recourse to formal mediation mechanisms favoured by the international community, the two leaders negotiated an agreement whose content remains secret. The Congolese initiative surprised most of the international partners of the Great Lakes region. They were relieved, however, that discussions about international intervention to stabilise the Kivu could abruptly end.

Kabila and Kagame are now working to implement the bilateral commitments in their joint plan to resolve the conflict in the Kivu. This involves two major concessions by Kabila. First, he undertook to meet the political demands of the rebel group, the CNDP, that has in the past caused him most problems with his electoral base. Secondly, he agreed to launch military operations that serve more to meet the interests of those conducting them than to protect the population. The success of this plan, including its political and economic components, depends on the response of the Kivu population to the redistribution of local power as well as to the ability of the national army (FARDC) to achieve Kinshasa’s military objectives.

The Congolese-Rwandan rapprochement has altered the balance of power in North and South Kivu. General Nkunda was arrested in January 2009 and replaced by Bosco Ntaganda, a suspected war criminal for whom the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in 2006. The CNDP, which was originally established to defend the interests of the Tutsi community, was integrated into and has become a major part of the national army. Its political agenda was put front and centre in the implementation of an agreement between the government and the Congolese armed groups in the Kivu. The new influence gained by the CNDP is resented by leaders of other communities who fear that it will disadvantage them in the general elections scheduled for 2011-2012.

But the limits of the politico-military approach designed in Kinshasa and Kigali have already been reached. Despite three successive operations conducted by the Congolese army, the humanitarian situation in the Kivu has deteriorated, and instances of extreme violence have multiplied. Women and girls, particularly, have suffered the consequences of impunity and of a highly militarised environment in which rape is endemic. The population is being victimised by both retribution campaigns of the rebels and unpunished human rights violations by Congolese soldiers.

The Rwandan Hutu rebel group, Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), is resisting forcible disarmament by forming alliances with Congolese militias that refuse integration into the national army. It has been chased out of many mining sites it previously controlled, but the natural resources have not yet been brought under legitimate control. Dissidents from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi seek support in the Kivu or to create cross-border armed coalitions. In response, there are increasing signs of neighbours’ interference in the Kivu.

The rapid integration of former rebels, involving suspected war criminals, into the national army and their subsequent involvement in poorly planned military operations have done little to resolve the conflict in the East. The UN effort to correct course by implementing a new conditionality policy for its peacekeepers’ support has not affected the behaviour of Congolese forces. The credibility of MONUC – renamed MONUSCO in July 2010 – has been seriously undermined by its failure to protect civilians better.

Meanwhile, struggle for local power has made rule of law in the Kivu even more problematic. Land conflicts and inter-communal tensions have multiplied, exacerbated by repeated cycles of displacement. Unresolved inconsistencies between customary and statutory law put traditional chiefs in opposition to administrative authorities seeking to implement the CNDP agenda. The branches of provincial government are trading accusations of corruption, thus creating a crisis of local governance. Despite the growth of trade in cities along the border and the revival of regional economic institutions, long-term economic development remains elusive.

Combined, these factors increase the risk of inter-ethnic clashes, disintegration of the national army and destabilisation of the region as a result of neighbours’ meddling. Unless the current approach is broadened to bring in all communities in a transparent way and new international momentum is created, the population will continue to bear the brunt of the failed attempts to establish state sovereignty in the Kivu.


To the Government of Congo, its international partners and MONUSCO:

1.  Suspend offensive military operations in the Kivu pending deployment of internationally-trained battalions, including units trained by the U.S., China, Belgium, South Africa and Angola, and then:

a) deploy the trained Congolese battalions first in Masisi and Rutshuru territories in North Kivu to provide security for the population while the 23 March 2009 agreement between Kinshasa and the Congolese armed groups is being fully implemented; and apply targeted military pressure on the FDLR in North and South Kivu, while international partners monitor and support these battalions in the field;

b) focus MONUSCO forces on immediately increasing protection of the population from gross human rights violations, including by maintaining an airborne rapid support and deployment capacity, defensive deployments and joint protection teams; help the national army hold territories left by the FDLR; and regain Congolese trust by ensuring that the rules of engagement are actively implemented and pursuing the arrest of Bosco; and

c) start a revised program combined with a new disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) program under international responsibility to process all soldiers who have joined the national army since January 2008, including ex-CNDP and Congolese rebels now associated with the FDLR; and begin to reduce the 60,000 troops in the Kivu to the target number of 21,000 in the government’s January 2010 army reform plan.

To the Government of Congo and the CNDP:

2.  Implement fully the 23 March agreement, including by:

a) renewing the mandate of the National Steering Committee (CNS) that expired in May 2010, so that international partners can support and monitor the CNS by reporting regularly on implementation of each side’s commitments; and reopening discussions on the ranks of the officers of other Congolese armed groups who have been integrated into the national army;

b) appointing CNDP figures to the North Kivu provincial institutions in exchange for verifiable dismantlement of CNDP parallel administrative and tax structures, subject to MONUSCO monitoring and reporting to the CNS; and arresting Bosco;

c) handing over responsibility for security of the Masisi and Rutshuru territories to national army battalions trained by foreign partners and MONUSCO;

d) committing troops who have participated in the “Amani Leo” operation to join the new DDR program, so that all ex-CNDP fighters are either completely integrated into the national army or police or reinserted into civilian life; and

e) committing not to engage in any political or military activities with foreign dissidents, including those of the Rwandan general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.

To the Governments of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

3.  Oversee and ensure a secure environment for refugee return in the Kivu, including by:

a) conducting a census of the undocumented refugees who returned to the Kivu since summer 2009 in partnership with UNHCR; starting a nationality verification process and issuing voter cards to eligible persons before elections; and reviving the joint Congo-Rwanda-Uganda verification mechanism to deter illegal immigration into the Kivu; and

b) starting repatriation of refugees from Rwanda and Uganda under UNHCR conditions, including voluntary return and security of the zones of return; the permanent local conciliation committees (CLPC) should decide if security conditions allow return based on clear benchmarks; and areas determined by MONUSCO to be under parallel administration should not be considered open for return.

To the Government of Congo:

4.  Build the institutions and the capacities to foster inter-communal reconciliation and dispute management, including by:

a) developing expertise to manage land conflicts, including a land commission to review titles; reinforcing Starec, the Congolese government organisation in charge of stabilisation programs, as a permanent conflict resolution mechanism; implementing the 2008 Goma conference resolutions on peace and security; and dedicating adequate resources and additional staff taken on through a transparent recruitment process;

b) empowering provincial institutions with resources and authority to respond to local needs; and creating the legal and administrative framework to address issues of ethnic minorities’ political representation and inconsistencies between customary and modern law; and

c) holding a roundtable with local communities, provincial authorities and national representatives to set clear guidelines for allocating posts in the provincial administration; map out a consensual process for distancing local communities from armed groups; and adopt a code of conduct for political activities in the Kivu.

To the presidents of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi:

5.  Organise a special summit of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) to:

a) open political discussions at head-of-state level and chaired by the African Development Bank (ADB) to agree on economic, land and population movement issues, with the aim of forming a mutually beneficial vision for the future of the Great Lakes region;

b) analyse jointly the region’s traumatic history, so as to foster reconciliation between Congolese and Rwandans; and

c) commit not to interfere in legitimate efforts at consolidation of the state in eastern Congo.

Nairobi/Brussels, 16 November 2010

[International Crisis Group]

November 17, 2010   4 Comments

Rwanda: Is The Honeymoon Over?

For a nation only one tenth of the size of the UK, Rwanda gets a lot of column inches in the world media. Why? Because this is the nation we failed to protect. We must be vigilant so as not to fail again. Sixteen years after the genocide, President Paul Kagame is emerging from the shelter of international guilt to finally face damning criticisms of his government. His tightening grip on power is worrying and the international community must step forward to stop him undoing years of progress.

A UN report released last month put into doubt the notion that Kagame alone stopped Rwanda’s Hutu-led genocide. It accuses Kagame’s forces of vengeful massacres against the Hutu population in Eastern Congo in 1996.  The report documented 617 of the worst human rights violations by Rwandan and Ugandan troops against those who had fled the genocide. “Many of the attacks were directed against civilians consisting primarily of women and children”.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo called the report “an attempt to rewrite history”, as Kigali tried to paint this as an attempt to promote the double genocide theory. The government was so desperate to get the report quashed, it even threatened to pull out Rwandan troops from delicate U.N. peacekeeping operations in Sudan. However, the report’s sheer thoroughness makes any criticism hard to sustain. More than 1,200 individual witnesses were interviewed and over 1,500 documents were collected and analysed. This report is no matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact.

Kagame’s government has enjoyed years as the global aid community’s darling in a troubled region for good reason. Average incomes have more than doubled from $242 in 1999 to $520 in 2010. Kagame as also been a champion for gender equality in the region and Rwanda now boasts the highest share of women in government in the world. Even Transparency International, a Berlin-based anti-corruption monitor, applauds its anti-corruption efforts and rates it as the cleanest country in east Africa. The compliments, however, end here.

Killings and arrests were but a few scandals which emerged in the lead up to August’s Presidential elections. Diplomats were dismayed. Why rig an election when you’re set to win? Firstly, years of struggle in the bush as leader of the RPF means Kagame sees himself as a national hero who would find defeat at the polls too humiliating to consider. Furthermore, weak institutions mean power is concentrated in the executive so all those in positions of power stand to lose if an opponent wins office. This means not only the President but the entire state relies on a Kagame victory, so democracy is undermined by everyone from everywhere.

Defenders of the current regime would argue that his recent slide towards dictatorship is necessary pragmatism. The government faces real constant threats from Hutu extremist groups in the Congo. Grenade attacks in Kigali earlier this year were seen as a sign that rebel forces were ready to attack. The recent arrest of FDLR leader Callixte Mbarushimana by the ICC proves that the groups are facing a crackdown by The Hague so the threat has diminished.

Kagame may also fear attacks from within, as the peace he has brokered among Rwanda’s warring tribes after the tragedy of 1994 remains fragile. His strategy for reconciliation involves eliminating tribal identities and replacing them with a new national identity. The government fears Hutu political opponents, such as Victoire Ingabire, could undermine this with inflammatory comments.

Kagame’s fears are more likely to be realized if he carries on oppressing freedom of speech. Violence may return if he maintains his crackdown on the press. Rebellion is probable unless he allows the prosecution of Tutsis as well as Hutus at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The President needs to understand that however noble his aims may be, his methods are misguided.

Britain and America have the power to set things right. Kagame was trained at the US Army College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas in 1990 and has remained loyal ever since. As Rwanda’s biggest donors, the US and UK provide around $220m of funding each year, which the government budget relies on. Rwanda has also recently joined the commonwealth and switched the country’s entire education system from French to English. Most telling is a recent decision to establish a cricket board. The past 16 years of Kagame’s rule can be seen as an appeasement of Anglo-American desires for the greater benefit of both parties. This year things must change.

Kagame is no longer respecting the ideals he set out to protect in 1994 and in so doing risks all his achievements in reconciling the nation after the genocide. Viable opponents must be found to enable a competitive election to decide Kagame’s successor. Not so many years ago, Mugabe walked down the path to disgrace. We must prevent Kagame from following in his footsteps.

[The Oxford Student]

November 16, 2010   1 Comment

Rwandan Diaspora and Friends of Rwanda urge the US government to push hard on General Kagame and the UN Security Council

By Ing Mah

Washington, DC-On Tuesday, November 9, 2010, members of the Rwandan Diaspora and Friends of Rwanda in US took to the streets of Washington, DC.

The protesters gathered in front of the White House from 10 am to 2 pm and later marched to the US State Department from 2 pm to 5 pm.

They called upon the US government to show leadership by urging the UN Security Council to address the recent UN Report of the Mapping Exercise which was released on October 1, 2010. The Report documents the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by Rwandan troops within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo against Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese people between 1993 and 2003.

The protesters also urged the US government to use their influence on Rwandan President Paul Kagame to secure immediate and unconditional release of all Rwandan political prisoners, including, Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Mr. Bernard Ntaganda, Mr. Deogratias Mushayidi, Mr. Theoneste Niyitegeka, Mr. Charles Ntakirutinka, and many others.

According to their statement, US taxpayers sent over one billion of tax dollars in foreign aid to Rwanda in the past decade alone.

“We therefore urge the United States Government to link future aid to Rwandan government on fostering genuine reconciliation, accountability and development for all Rwandans instead of supporting political agenda of the RPF ruling party”.

While in front of the White House, protesters unexpectedly encountered a counter protest led by the Staff from the Rwandan Embassy in US and their friends.

Fortunately, because these counter protesters failed to show to the security officers a required permit, they were asked to immediately leave the White House sidewalk. They gently walked across the street towards Lafayette Park where they stayed until the rally was over at 2 pm.

Starting at 2:30 pm, the Rwandan Diaspora and Friends of Rwanda in US were allowed to pursue their rally in the front yard of the US Department of State. Copies of their press release and the statement on Mrs. Ingabire’s High Court bail hearing last Monday November 8, 2010 were handed over by the protesters’ representative to Staff in charge of the Rwandan Desk at the US Department of State.

Upon their humiliation in front of the White House, the unfortunate Staff from the Rwandan Embassy in US and their friends did not give up. They made it to the US Department of State but were barred from approaching the courtyard because they once again failed to show a required permit.

Surprisingly, counter protesters from the Rwandan Embassy in US knowingly misled the Rwandan public opinion by falsely reporting to the New Times in Kigali that they urged U.S to act on fugitives despite the fact that they were not allowed access to neither the White House sidewalk nor the US Department of State courtyard!

[Hungry Of Truth]

November 13, 2010   1 Comment