Linda Whetstone on Paul Kagame

Economic reforms taken by President Kagame rightfully have attracted positive attention from the media and an array of outside supporters. These economic policies—unlike those of most other African governments—are the best way to enable Rwanda’s people to lift themselves from poverty.

Yet his supporters seem far too willing to overlook or forgive his views on free speech and the freedom of the press. From first-hand experience, I know that President Kagame goes far further than “Europe’s laws against Holocaust denial,” practicing a policy of zero tolerance toward any journalist who criticizes him. If Gordon Brown emulated this policy, few journalists would remain in the U.K. right now.

Mr. Kagame’s record on political freedom also looks increasingly weak at the moment. Who of us would feel our democratic system to be in good working order if our political leader was facing no opposition in an upcoming election after being in power for seven years, because he had momentarily imprisoned the only potential opposition, in order to stop them from registering their party in the approaching elections?

President Kagame works very hard at his PR, but surely freedom is not divisible. Those of us who believe in its creative power should give credit where credit is due, but also express constructive criticism or condemnation where freedom is seriously threatened or indeed extinguished.

Linda Whetstone

Chairman

International Policy Network

Hartfield, Sussex, U.K.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471204575210010010720290.html

4 responses to “Linda Whetstone on Paul Kagame

  1. “the only potential opposition” – this is nonsense. First there are at least three other parties who have said they will put forward candidates. Second, Ingabire, who is on bail pending prosecution, has spent precisely 3 months in Rwanda in the last 16 years. She is not a credible candidate.

    A UN report places her at a conference with funders of a terrorist organisation which would invade the country to “finish” the Genocide. The govt say they have further evidence of her real support for this organisation, the sort of thing that would be a criminal offence in the UK for example.

    Ingabire has also engaged in what you might call dog whistle politics making coded statements in Kinyarwanda stressing bogus divisions between people and Rwandans know very well what they are intended to lead to.

    While you may comment in the UK about Rwanda let us not pretend that you rather than Rwandans will have to deal with its future, whatever it may be.

    • Anon, the Rwandan government accuses anyone who criticizes Kagame of being either a genocide denier or a FDLr supporter. If you don’t want foreigners to intervene in Rwanda’s politics why does Rwanda intervened for the last decade in Congo’s politics. Your innuendo concerning Ingabire doesn’t even deserves a reply.

      • Self-defence. That is where the FDLR were and are operating. You know their mission. What was Ingabire’s first statement? To value our differences? Sounds like she wants to take us back to “ethnic” politics.

  2. Anon, Ingabire’s first statement was to say that there were war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by RPFR forces and that victims of these crimes should be remembered too. That is a fact. If you really believe that RPF forces never committed any crime at all, you must be living in a utopia. Those of us who were there and saw some babies and women who were killed by RPF forces, we know that RPF forces did commit some war crimes and crimes against humanity. This will never be swept under the carpet no matter how much RPF tries to redefine history in its favour.

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