THE RWANDAN PEOPLE ARE READY FOR DEMOCRACY. THE RPF IS NOT.
Reaction of the Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi to the President Paul Kagame’s speech on the 16th Commemoration of the Genocide
On Wednesday April 07, 2010, to mark the 16th commemoration of the genocide of 1994, in a long tirade against the opposition leaders in general, and against the Chairperson and candidate of UDF-Inkingi to the presidential elections of August 2010, Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in particular, President Paul Kagame treated the opponents of “political hooligans”, “people who came out from nowhere...the useless people”, presenting them elsewhere as “people that the West would prefer to see at the head of Rwanda” on which the West would like to “impose values”, in reference to multiparty democracy, a system that took Westerners “hundreds…thousands of years” to implement in their countries.
1. This vindictive and disrespectful language, worthy of Patrick Hooligan, indeed took the place of the words of comfort which hundreds of thousands of genocide survivors were waiting for from a person who is also the Head of State, on this day of sadness. It took the place of reflection, deep thoughts that the country, the region and the world were expecting from the Chief of a State that experienced the worst of the tragedies. It revealed how President Paul Kagame still belongs to an era that Rwanda needs to overcome, without forgetting, in order to build a secure future for all its children.
2. If in sports, a hooligan is a follower of a discipline, usually football, who uses violence to influence the outcome of fate of a match, then a political hooligan is a follower of a party who uses violence to weigh on the outcome of a political confrontation. In the political confrontation looming on the horizon, namely the presidential elections scheduled for August 2010, leaders of the opposition in general, and those of UDF-Inkingi in particular, use only peaceful and legal political means. At no time, they have resorted to violent means.
3. In this regard, the leaders of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in general and its President Paul Kagame in particular, are repeat offenders. Since 1990, they routinely use violent means to solve political issues, both in home and foreign policies.
4. In 1990, to address the issue of Tutsi refugees which was under discussions between the Government of Rwanda and the Government of Uganda, RPF took up arms against the Government of Rwanda. In doing so, they committed serious crimes against the internal security of the State, in violation of the Penal Code (Article 164 et seq.), provisions they now use to try to convict to life prison the Chairperson of UDF-Inkingi by forging evidence tending to associate her with existing armed groups (FDLR-Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), and imaginary armed groups (CDF- Coalition of Democratic Forces).
5. In April 1994, to influence the provisions of the Arusha Peace Agreement, the RPF shot down the plane carrying the Head of State in office, Juvenal Habyarimana. They killed at the same time the Burundian Head of State, Cyprien Ntaryamira, who was also on board, and all their staff and crew members. This attack which was committed in time of peace since the Arusha Peace Agreement, signed by both parties involved, including the RPF, had ended the armed conflict, is considered by all objective observers as the trigger for the genocide. By shooting down the presidential plane, the RPF also interfered with the person of the Head of a foreign State, causing an institutional crisis in Burundi.
6. In April 1995, to address the issue of internally displaced people in Kibeho (south-western Rwanda), the RPF sent its army, surrounded and pounded by heavy weapons camps for the internally displaced people, killing in one day at least 8,000 Rwandans mainly of Hutu descent whose evocation of the suffering and the memory led to accusations of genocide denial against the Chairperson of UDF-Inkingi.
7. In 1996-1997, to address the issue of Rwandan refugees massed in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (former Zaire), the RPF army surrounded and bombed with heavy weapons refugee camps, forcing some survivors to return home and others in a frenzied flight throughout the Congolese forests where at least 300,000 of them perished. In 1996 and 1998, to settle political differences with the late Colonel Theoneste Lizinde, former MP and the late Seth Sendashonga, former RPF Minister of Interior, the RPF sent death squads to assassinate them in Nairobi (Kenya), without hesitating to cover up some of the murderers, by brandishing their immune status as diplomats. Therefore, if there are political hooligans, it is not within UDF-Inkingi that one needs to find them. It is within the RPF-Inkotanyi’ s leadership that one must look and get them.
8. With regard to the link that President Paul Kagame is trying to establish between the Chairperson of UDF-Inkingi, Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, and people who were convicted for genocide, such as Joseph Ntawangundi, as the novelist from Benin, Florent Couao-Zotti, asserts: “If the court of the block is dirty, it is not up to the pig to say it”. First, the RPF government was unable to produce the record of the conviction in absentia supposedly pronounced in 2007 against Joseph Ntawangundi. However, one knows how his confession which supported his condemnation of March 24, 2010 has been obtained, if one sticks to the testimony of General Kayumba Nyamwasa, former head of Rwandan intelligence, who recently escaped such manipulations. Finally, the RPF and its President Paul Kagame whose countless MPs are in prison for genocide and whose at least forty of the most senior officials are wanted under international warrants for crimes against humanity, are absolutely not appropriate to give lessons to anyone in this matter.
9. As for the accusation that the West is attempting to impose the Chairperson of UDF-Inkingi as the head of Rwanda, it is very surprising to hear such a statement from the lips of President Paul Kagame. Hurried back home to Uganda from a military training that he had barely begun at War College of Fort Leavenworth (Kansas, USA) as a Ugandan officer, to head the RPF militia in a country (Rwanda) that he did not know and which country did not know him either, because he had left it thirty years earlier, and despite the fact that he has successfully passed a few years of high school, President Paul Kagame is certainly not the most appropriate person to talk about leaders “from nowhere” serving foreign interests.
10. What should we deduce from President Paul Kagame’s support for the Bush administration during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, despite the fact that the invasion had been condemned by the African Union and the United Nations? What about the proxy war in which President Paul Kagame led the country to overthrow the legitimate government of the DRC in August 1998 which led to the creation of the FDLR, which later became the perfect excuse for other armed attacks, aimed at balkanizing this neighboring State, failing to impose it another government ?
11. For UDF-Inkingi, to pretend that Rwandans are not mature enough for democracy and that they should expect “hundreds… thousands of years” is indeed an expression of contempt, the most abject one can utter toward any people. In Europe, undemocratic regimes claimed that Western people were not ready to exercise their rights and used to grant the right to vote to the only wealthy or educated. When it was no longer possible to deny anyone that right, they argued that women were not yet ready.
12. In Africa, during the Cold War, all the undemocratic regimes relied on this argument. In South Africa, the apartheid regime used the same argument, deeming blacks unfit to exercise their political rights. Today, it is outdated. It is the RPF that is not ready for democracy and not the Rwandan people. The RPF may take all time needed to prepare itself, but it cannot ask the people of Rwanda to wait for it even though it is trumpeting a champion of gender equity, citizen participation, good governance and economic development. The claim that democracy is a “foreign” value in Rwanda in order to have a free hand to perpetuate dictatorship and thus continue to appropriate itself the country’s wealth shows clearly that this is only rhetoric. The time has come for politics to change the logic: politics must move from the logic of power, which aims at getting as much power as possible and keep it as long as possible by means of violence and deception, to that of responsibility whose basic principles are to carry out multiple responsibilities in a limited time and a limited area, because one cannot be competent in everything.
The Rwandan people, like any other people in the world, are perfectly capable of choosing their own leaders. They are perfectly capable of choosing economic policies that suit them by voting for one program. Sixteen years later, using genocide as a pretext to continue to postpone the moment when Rwandans may exercise their political rights is no longer an option. It is time that the RPF and President Paul Kagame understand this fact and comply.
Done in Lyon, April 08, 2010
For the Support Committee for UDF-Inkingi