Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Pro-Democracy Movement in Rwanda Needs our Urgent Support

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Eleneus Akanga writing for the African Report gives a quick but insightful analysis of the current political tensions brewing up in Rwanda. He sums up his article by stating the following:
As Kagame looks forward to another massive victory that will guarantee his tight grip on Rwanda for another seven years, questions should be asked as to whether sixteen years after the genocide, time has not come to open up the very issues that affect the populace.
Given Mr. Akanga’s current status as an exiled Rwandan journalist, he undisputedly is a victim of the terror he describes. I join Mr. Akanga in arguing that Rwanda and by extension the Great Lakes region, cannot afford another seven years under Kagame’s stalinistic rule. If Kagame was a popular figure and truly interested in Rwanda’s development, then the will of the people would have to prevail.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. Mr.  Kagame has no interest in democracy. His “messianic” call for “African Solutions for African Problems” seems to have no room for political accountability, free elections and independent institutions.
Perhaps due to the “sudden” re-emergence of political violence in what has been touted as the new model for Africa, several high profile individuals and organizations have raised an alarm. Charles Obbo-Anyango, a long time admirer of the regime penned a commentary to the East African Standard.  “There’s Something Rotten in the State of Rwanda,” was the title.
A letter to the editor of Wall Street Journal by Hotel Rwanda Hero restates the same warning.  Writes Mr. Paul Rusesabagina:
Recent government repression in Rwanda, which has included the brutal beating and jailing of political figures and members of the press, fills me with fear that significant violence will reappear and hope for economic progress will disappear.
Lastly, a letter by William G. O’Neill , a lawyer who led the United Nations Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda to the New York Times alerts:
Rwanda in the several decades preceding the 1994 genocide was considered a star economic performer by the World Bank and other major donors. With growth rates well above the average for sub-Saharan Africa, little corruption, good roads and a reliable power supply, Rwanda dazzled those looking for a “model” African development narrative.
So we should be very wary of mistaking the surface glitter of Rwanda today — the tall buildings, clean streets and Internet cafes — as signs that all is well. Ethnic divisions and political authoritarianism have not disappeared from Rwanda, nor has a tendency to use violence to resolve differences dissipated.

These are just but a few of the recent fore-warnings. The west, known for playing the “we -did -not –know” card after the end of major cataclysms as happened in Rwanda, has little excuse, if any, for not speaking up given the reemergence of these apocalyptic signs.
When everything is said and done, the greatest contribution to Rwanda that the international community can offer is neither foreign aid nor investment, but the willingness to back the people of Rwanda in their cry out for democracy. Only such grassroots empowerment can keep the government checked and set free the county (and the region) from its haunting past.

1 comment:

Ann Garrison said...

"When everything is said and done, the greatest contribution to Rwanda that the international community can offer is neither foreign aid nor investment, but the willingness to back the people of Rwanda in their cry out for democracy. Only such grassroots empowerment can keep the government checked and set free the county (and the region) from its haunting past."

Couldn't agree with you more about that, but, I'm trying to find you, Nkunda. I believe you were Nkunda Rwanda on Facebook, but that I.D. has disappeared, so I'm looking for you.