Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tony Blair: of what help is he to Rwanda?

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Tony Blair, Rick Warren and anyone else participating in the active or passive oppression of Rwandans, need to be reminded that Paul Kagame is not God. He maybe charismatic, a “visionary” and a brilliant military strategist, but he cannot govern Rwanda without popular consent. He is not immortal, and his destiny is not intertwined with that of Rwanda.

Like any other public official before him, however ruthless he may be, he will soon have to leave. What would be better at this time would be for these well meaning friends of Rwanda, to take a comfortable backseat, steer clear of Rwandan politics and let Rwandans decide their destiny.

Blair's recent comment that Kagame is a "visionary leader" is as unfortunate as it gets. For the comment ignores the current crisis facing Kagame or even worse, represent a desire to downplay it.

In September, the UN high commission for human rights issued a monumental document on the crimes committed in the DRC. The report claims to have “damning evidence” that, Kagame’s forces committed genocide against Hutu refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Mr. Blair, like other supporters of this murderous regime did not say a word when this report was released. As a matter of fact, they were right to keep quiet considering that Britain under Blair was the largest donor to Rwanda at a time when Rwandan troops were committing these massacres in the DRC. Given this major failure, it would make more sense for Mr. Blair to undergo some soul searching and possibly apologize to the Rwandan people and the Congolese community.

To claim that he supports a man that is responsible for the vast share of violence that has affected our lives, is both criminal and insensitive.

Recent events in Rwanda have shown that Kagame is losing control over the country. There is clear and growing dissent within the ranks of the Tutsi ruling elites. The military—the backbone of Kagame’s state—is deeply fragmented.

Opposition candidates are gaining more legitimacy internationally, and Kagame is turning the whip on them. Two notable individuals, Bernard Ntaganda and Madame Victoire Ingabire, are facing politically motivated imprisonment. Of course, the current mode of governance is neither sustainable nor productive.

If Tony Blair cannot praise China’s despicable human rights record, even though China has had the highest rate of economic growth recorded in recent history, why would he do so for Rwanda?

Mr. Blair needs to reexamine his relationship with Kagame, and refuse to be used as Kagame’s propaganda machine. Otherwise, the honeymoon for Kagame is surely over.

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