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Is third term push behind Paul Kagame’s decision to sack Karugarama?

By By Mugabe Robert

Tharcisse Karugarama

Sacked: Tharcisse Karugarama

Rwandans on Saturday 25th May woke up to the news that President Paul Kagame had replaced two senior ruling party Rwandan Patriotic Front [RPF] officials in the cabinet. Protais Musoni and Tharcisse Karugarama were replaced by Mugabo Ford and Justice Johnstone Busingye respectively as Cabinet affairs and Justice Ministers in the mid night reshuffle that also saw several ambassadors recalled.

While there is nothing unusual about the President changing cabinet members, the particular sacking of Justice Minister and Attorney General Karugarama came a few days after the UK Guardian newspaper published a long article in which the President Kagame and Karugarama seemed to be at loggerheads over the transition in 2017 when President Kagame’s final elected term expires. The Guardian journalist wrote:

“… Others, including Kagame’s own justice minister, believe it is essential for Kagame to step down in 2017 in order to maintain the primacy of the rule of law.

Kagame has been equivocal in the past, but greets the news of his justice minister’s views with belligerence. “Why don’t you tell him to step down himself? All those years he’s been there, he’s not the only one who can be the justice minister,” he says. “In the end we should come to a view that serves us all. But in the first place I wonder why it becomes the subject of heated debate.”

It is almost unheard of for a public disagreement on any issue between President Kagame and any person who works for him. Actually there are reports that in internal RPF meetings, Karugarama has made it clear that the Constitution should be respected as it is so as to set a national precedent. This was well in line with President Kagame’s own stated position in the many interviews with the media following with his re-election in 2010.

However, the absence of any moves towards anointing a successor and the clear ambivalence in recent interviews has convinced many that President Kagame is set to seek another mandate in 2017.

Since President Kagame called an extraordinary meeting of the RPF politiburo and assigned members to come up with a transition formula that guaranteed both change and continuity, and later appointed a panel to look into the who transition issue, a tendency in support of a continued Kagame presidency well beyond 2017 is emerging dominant with reports that the necessary machinery is being assembled to make it possible.

The big question is how the Rwandan Patriotic Front [RPF] will handle itself in the crucial period towards 2017 whether there is a transition to another president or Kagame seeks a third term. The likelihood that members may disagree and some loudly so remains possible, but analysts expect Kagame’s wish to prevail in whichever case given his grip over the state, party and crucially military and security apparatus. The reshuffle could be a message to those who have views contrary to the boss’ to keep to themselves and tow the party line when it emerges.

While social media is filled with speculation that the transition issue is reason for Karugarama’s sacking since he was regarded as competent and was many times one of the government’s spokespeople, his legal brain was significant in Rwanda jurisprudence.

For the case of Protais Musoni, he is said to have long asked to retire from demanding government jobs though it’s not yet clear if his removal from cabinet at this particular time is in fulfillment of this or he was sacked.

However, the recalling of several ambassadors may be to provide space for the former ministers to serve as ambassadors. It has happened before for President Kagame to send sacked ministers to diplomatic postings.

With the death of Aloisea Inyumba last year and now Musoni and Karugarama out of cabinet, President Kagame is the only person involved in the founding of the RPF who is surviving in the cabinet, and of course because he picks it.

Both Karugarama and Musoni played important roles in the creation and running of the Rwandese Alliance for National Unity [RANU] that became the RPF Inkotanyi in 1987. Karugarama was among the seven people present at his brother, Anthony Karugahe’s house at Lenana School in Nairobi in June 1979 at the founding of RANU. He was thereafter sent to Uganda to set up a branch of RANU that recruited some of the most influential people in the RPF liberation war.

Musoni became RANU Secretary General in 1983 and remained in that post until December 1987 when RANU transformed RPF in Kampala and was general coordinator during the RPF war. Musoni has long been a leading RPF ideologue alongside the likes of Tito Rutaremara. Protais Musoni is currently serving in RPF as a commissioner for discipline.

The RPF is expected to hold an electing congress in December 2013 and it is expected that long serving powerful Secretary General François Ngarambe and Vice Chairman Bazivamo Christopher will be replaced. While several names are being touted around, it is for certain that the transition politics will inform who will become Secretary General and others who will occupy positions on the Executive committee.

Political observers in Kigali say that the September parliamentary elections will also produce Deputies that are more likely to back Constitutional amendments enabling the third term.

Source: Great Lakes Voice

May 28, 2013   No Comments

Jakaya Kikwete suggests talks between Kigali and FDLR

Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania

Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania

At the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity celebrated this past weekend in Addis Abeba, a private meeting between the parties concerned by the Addis Abeba Peace Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo signed in February of this year was held.

During that meeting the Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete highlighted to the participants who included the Rwandan and Ugandan presidents Paul Kagame and Joweri Museveni that the brigade of intervention would be able to help very temporarily, but for a durable peace, a global dialogue was necessary.

He recommended that Paul Kagame needed to have direct talks with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda [FDLR], the Rwandan armed rebel movement operating from the Congolese provinces of Kivus. He suggested as well to the Ugandan president to hold similar talks with the rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda [ADF-NALU] opposed to his government.

Source: Rising Continent

May 28, 2013   No Comments

Carrots and sticks: From appeasement to coercive diplomacy to end violent conflict in the Great Lakes region of Africa

President Paul Kagame with Ban Ki-Moon and Jim Yong Kim

President Paul Kagame with Ban Ki-Moon and Jim Yong Kim

In their shuttle diplomacy in the Great Lakes region, Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, and Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, have spoken on the need for Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to commit to peace in exchange for $ 1 billion in aid. In Kigali, Rwanda, the world’s top diplomats lamented the 1994 genocide, expressed guilt for international failure, and, as usual, praised President Kagame and called upon him to contribute to peace in the region.

Last year, due to pressure from the international community, President Paul Kagame reluctantly agreed to have his creation and proxy, M23, to withdraw from Goma. As a result of this international pressure, President Kabila was influenced, also reluctantly, to talk to M23, to listen to its “grievances”. Admittedly, the problems of eastern DRC are largely a Congolese problem of internal weaknesses. However, since 1994, Rwanda has exported its own internal political and human rights crisis to DRC. Although the current problem in the eastern DRC has a Congolese component, the M23 saga is Rwanda’s deliberate creation. You cannot solve, once and for all, the “M23 problem”without dealing with Rwanda’s own political crisis, and re-evaluating the West’s hitherto unquestioning support to President Kagame. Short of new and innovative ways in the thinking process, policy, and action to underpin diplomatic, political and aid-related initiatives, current peace initiatives will be a temporary and futile measure.

The Great Lakes region is amidst a period of high risk and escalation in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. Political space in Rwanda has become completely closed, with democratic voices dead, in jail or in exile. The regime has become ever more illegitimate, intransigent, and aggressive. Power is vested in the hands of President Kagame and his wife, and a few Tutsi military officers who run both the formal and informal government. President Kagame and his top military officers have ceaselessly turned to DRC for personal economic gain, the latest venture being the M23, itself with high potential to escalate into a full civil war that could easily turn regional and ugly. Rwanda’s top military officers have been cited by the U.N. Group of Experts as the organizers of M23 rebellion. The same officers are the masterminds of the horrendous crimes which were described in the UN Mapping Report of 2010 and other previous reports. Many people in Rwanda, DRC, Great Lakes region, Africa and the International Community are asking about the endgame in the current crisis in DRC.

Without a robust international engagement with a well calibrated mix of rewards and punishment to regional spoilers, more money and hastily arranged and exclusive peace deals will not achieve much. Even the deployment of the 3,000-strong international brigade, in addition to the 20,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force with U.S. $ 1.5 billion annual budget, sooner than later the costly, redundant and scandal-prone UN peacekeepers in DRC will cut down their losses and close down what has become an embarrassingly ineffectual operation.The international community, especially the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, United Nations, and the World Bank face a mountain of credibility gaps in the Great Lakes region that are both historical and current. African people in the Great Lakes region do not trust that these players are honest and impartial brokers. Nor do they trust their own governments, whose governing elite are largely the source of the cyclical crises in Rwanda and DRC.

Here are some ideas for an all-inclusive, society-wide, regional, Africa-led, approach for responding to the immediate humanitarian crisis. In the medium and long term such an approach should help in de-escalating the violent conflict, stopping the impunity that underlies mass atrocity and other gross human rights abuses, promoting inclusive political and economic arrangements, building strong institutions that enhance the rule of law, co-operating for national and regional security, and building resilient communities for shared peace, and sustainable prosperity.

First, immediately initiate a coordinated two-track peace process for Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The two-track peace process should be co-facilitated by South Africa and Tanzania, under the auspices of the African Union. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and China), and the European Union should be engaged observers to the peace processes. If President Kabila talks to M23 created by Rwanda, why can’t President Kagame, who presides over a minority regime, talk to the Rwanda’s legitimate political opposition and armed groups like FDLR?

Second, call a spade a spade. The contact group, comprising of the co-facilitators and the observers, should be brutally honest to all the regional players involved in the problem. The international community should halt the policy of appeasement born out of the failures of 1994. The contact group collectively has substantive leverage and wisdom to bring to the table. The members of the contact group should seek to understand the current power dynamics in Rwanda and DRC, appreciate the consequences of maintaining the status quo and inaction, and consider the threats and opportunities with respect to international peace and security.

Third, adopt a people-centered approach. The contact group should directly engage Rwandans and Congolese struggling for fundamental freedoms and justice. A timid international community that won’t care for African people, and will only look at the each country and the region through the eyes of rulers is a recipe for cyclical conflict and disaster. The thousands of civil, community and political groups that are calling for change in these countries are, like their own societies, imperfect, but still they are indispensable stakeholders. The international community must support efforts that promote genuine dialogue, reconciliation and healing within Rwanda and DRC. It is no good value for money when billions are spent in development projects when many in Rwanda and DRC feel they are marginalized within and outside their countries.

Fourth, seek and promote accountability to end impunity, with an end goal of promoting restoration rather than retribution. However, Africans and the rest of the international community must make sure that those who have committed, and continue to commit, horrendous human rights abuses, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are held accountable. Economic efficiency, though desirable, is not the only factor in human development as founding and policy documents of the United Nations and the World Bank testify. Without basic rights and human dignity, the so called economic development is both sham and unsustainable.

Fifth, the contact group should urgently convene a Great Lakes Peoples Conference(GLPC) to consider a “Great Lakes Peoples Compact” to motivate the tens of millions of the unemployed, youth, and women who are both victims and tools of predatory state and non-state actors. The conference should invite governments, community and civic groups, business, academics, political opposition, multilateral and bilateral organizations to promote buy-in in the peace process.

Throwing money and hastily organized peace deals among the principal spoilers in a protracted and complex problem, without redressing its root causes, is a recipe for another failure and disaster The challenge to resist repression and war, and build viable communities and institutions, is primarily an African affair. However, the international community should have an interest in supporting Africa’s efforts before it is too late. A window of opportunity does exist, but it is closing fast. We must think and act innovatively, and together, now, to stop the slaughter of innocent Africans and prevent what may escalate to an unprecedented bloodbath in the Great Lakes region. As Albert Einstein once said, you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.

Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa

Washington DC


E-mail: [email protected]

The writer was President Paul Kagame’s Chief of Staff, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United States, and Secretary General of Rwanda’s ruling party, RPF. He is currently the Coordinator of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the author of Healing A Nation: A Testimony: Waging and Winning A Peaceful Revolution to Unite and Heal A Broken Rwanda ( CreateSpace, April, 2013)

Source: Inyenyeri News

May 28, 2013   No Comments