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Rwanda's opposition silenced

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    In five weeks, Rwandans go to the polls to elect a president. But the incumbent, Paul Kagame, continues to exert total control over the country's electoral processes.

    Kagame, who came to power as the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the rebel army that ended the 1994 genocide, legitimised his rule in 2003 when he won the presidential elections with 95% of the vote. Such a result would suggest that he was not elected in a free and fair poll.

    But even though Amnesty International, the European Union, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations found serious irregularities and widespread repression during the elections, Kagame has won praise from major donors such as the United States and the United Kingdom for his leadership of Rwanda's rebirth.

    Many in the international community have remained supportive of Rwanda's "democratic transition". They ignore the widespread arrest of journalists and opposition politicians, the closure of independent newspapers, the ejection of a Human Rights Watch researcher, the attempted assassination of exiled General Kayumba Nyamwasa, who had a falling out with Kagame, and the killing of pressman Jean-Leonard Rugambage, who tried to report on the assassination bid in the online version of a Rwandan newspaper whose print edition had been closed by the state.

    Although diplomats and policymakers in some countries, including Sweden and The Netherlands, have cut aid, the US and UK publicly continue to support Kagame.

    In Rwanda, politics is the preserve of elite actors who represent about 10% of the population. The rest has almost no say in the political process. In November last year a group of farmers in southern Rwanda sought to register a new political party and put up their own presidential candidate. Several were arrested without charge -- the organisers either remain in prison or have fled to neighbouring Burundi. Anyone who questions RPF policies or its treatment of the opposition and its critics risks being beaten or harassed. Those perceived as sympathetic to the opposition are often arrested or die mysteriously.

    This has prompted Human Rights Watch to report that the stifling of political freedom is an RPF strategy to "silence critical voices before the elections". None of the three main opposition parties -- the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, FDU-Inkingi and PS-Imberakuri -- can take part and even distant family members of opposition politicians and critical journalists find themselves under surveillance.

    As an aide to the minister of local government put it: "In 2010, the people will also vote as we instruct them. This means that those who vote against us understand that they can be left behind. To embrace democracy is to embrace the development ideas of President Kagame."

    Rwandans are sceptical about the government's commitment to democracy. A male university student, who asked not to be named, told me: "Voting is not something done freely. Since the middle of 2009, students have been told to take an oath of loyalty to the RPF. If we don't join the party, we have no opportunities to get a job, get married or have any kind of life. In Rwanda, democracy means understanding that the power of the RPF is absolute."

    Mail &Guardian
  2. Bantugbro

    Bantugbro JF-Expert Member

    Jul 23, 2010
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    Hilo jipu litapasuka hivi karibuni...
  3. J

    Jasusi JF-Expert Member

    Jul 23, 2010
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    Rwanda's tragedy is that politics are still based on tribalism. RPF is a minority party in that it represents a minority. You cannot have true democracy in Rwanda as long as there is no reconciliation between the Hutus and the Tutsis. As long as one group looks at the other with suspicion based on the history that led to the 1994 genocide. Kagame has done a lot to reshape the landscape but as long as this Hutu-Tutsi thing remains a factor there can never be true democracy.
  4. babukijana

    babukijana JF-Expert Member

    Jul 23, 2010
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    hiyo election ni kichekesho maana rais kashajichagua na atashinda kwa 97%,sijui hata anafanya kampeni ya nini.maana km ni mpira,kipa yeye,mchezaji yeye,refa yeye,mshindi yeye na mshangiliaji yeye.full maigizo.