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The Expected Role of the United States and the International Community in Supporting Democratic Change and Building Sustainable Peace in Rwanda

par FDU-Inkingi and Rwanda National Congress.

(from joint open letter of FDU-Inkingi and Rwanda National Congress to members of the US Congress – 14th September 2011)

The role of the United States and the international community in supporting democratic change and building sustainable peace in Rwanda

President Kagame has exploited the failure of the West to stop or prevent the 1994 genocide to silence critics of his opposition to democratic change and the human rights practices of his security services. The tolerance that the U.S and the rest of the international community have exhibited towards Paul Kagame’s excesses continues to fuel impunity and is an obstacle to lasting peace and sustainable development in Rwanda. U.S. and Western indifference to President Kagame’s human rights record and stand on popular political participation is incomprehensible to the majority of Rwandans, and it alienates them. As most Americans know, stability and development do not substitute for liberty and freedom.

In view of the grave consequences that a return to violent conflict in Rwanda would entail, the RNC and FDU-Inkingi hold the view that peace and security in Rwanda should be a matter of international concern. The people of Rwanda count on Rwanda’s neighbours and development partners, especially the the United States and United Kingdom(the two countries that are widely perceived as being Rwanda’s principal allies in the West) to support the promotion of respect for human rights and advancement of democracy. We believe that Rwanda’s development partners, especially those who have close relations with the current government have a unique role, if not responsibility, to advance the cause of peaceful change in Rwanda by engaging President Kagame on the need for progress in guaranteeing fundamental human rights and for national dialogue to resolve the country’s crisis. The international community ought to support the seeking of democratic change, inclusive government and respect for human rights in Rwanda on account of several reasons, including the following:

(a) Empowering the people of Rwanda to realize the full range of their human rights: The people of Rwanda continue to be deprived of the opportunity to enjoy some of the most fundamental human rights, including rights relating to integrity of the person, freedom of expression and political participation. The Kagame regime relies on repression to maintain this status quo. The people of Rwanda are much entitled to be relieved of this tyranny as citizens of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya whom the international community is supporting to make the realization of their human rights a reality.

(b) Promoting international peace and security: In the absence of democratic reforms, the policies of the present government of Rwanda are likely to lead to a return to violence in the country. A system of government that deprives citizens of fundamental human rights, especially the right to political participation and the integrity of the person, cannot last indefinitely. Change in Rwanda is inevitable; the issue is whether change will be negotiated and peaceful, or violent and imposed, again, by the victors of a bloody armed conflict. Political change is necessary to avert violent conflict that the repressive government in Rwanda has made almost inevitable. A return to violent conflict in Rwanda would further destabilize the Great Lakes region of Central Africa.

(c) Humanitarian considerations: Rwanda is on the precipice of a very serious political and humanitarian crisis. A return to violent conflict in Rwanda is likely to take an ethnic dimension. As was demonstrated after 1994, violent conflict in Rwanda has capacity to lead to massive loss of human life, as well as immense suffering for millions, both inside Rwanda and in other countries in the region. The international community needs to act today in order to prevent the suffering and horrendous loss of life that is likely to result from the outbreak of new violence in Rwanda.

Recommendations of Rwanda National Congress and FDU-Inkingi to the Government of the United States


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