Victoire Ingabire And Why I Love Political Cases

Her supporters insist she is “Rwanda’s Aung San Suu Kyi”. Others know her as the “messiah who having returned to flee Rwandans from President Paul Kagame’s tyranny”, was arrested – first on tramped up charges, put under house arrest, provisionally released only to be arrested days later and charged with promoting ethnic divisionism, propagating genocide ideology and trivilaising the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis.

A very heavy charge sheet if you ask me but is it really? In case you missed it, this was on April 21, 2010. Some two years later, the prosecution is still looking for evidence. Never mind too that this is a case which first a prosecutor and later the president were both quoted saying that there was enough evidence to convict her on almost all the charges.

To her supporters and perhaps those who have been following the case closely, it was not surprising learning that Ms Ingabire’s case was adjourned yet again, today as her defence team asked for time to review some fresh evidence provided by prosecution. One can only assume that the new evidence reportedly obtained from the Netherlands by the prosecution was availed to the defence on the eleventh minute as a strategic move to catch them off guard for why else would the same people who not long ago (in the same case) complained of not being given enough time by the defence, fall in the same trap?

Some commentators have branded this a political trial. And you can not fail to see why. Between April 2010 and February 2012, this case has been itemised with numerous postponements. It has become a cat and mouse case. When prosecution has not requested time to solicit and submit new evidence, the defence has sought for time to examine and look at the freshly presented evidence. Such requests of course do take time and amidst this quandary, the defendant continues her incarceration.

Add to this the challenges which will come in the form of checks on procedure – issues  such as; does the High Court have jurisdiction to try the accused for acts or omissions amounting to genocide ideology given that the evidence against her is based on say comments made prior to the publication of Law N° 18/2008 of 23 July 2008 in the Official Gazette on 15 October 2008? Does the same Court have jurisdiction to try the accused for any act or omission which the Prosecutor suggests amounts to complicity in terrorist acts done prior to the publication of Law N° 45/2008 of 9 September 2008 in the Official Gazette on 6 April 2009? Or even still, can she be tried for acts done outside Rwanda?

And assuming a solution to all this is finally found, what happens to the literature that has been written or said about this case be it from political commentators, newsletters, blogs and sometimes political party websites?

While it is easy to explain or understand the reasons behind the protracted nature of this case, it remains in the government’s interest to quickly bring this case to trial. The more it drags on, the more the interest (both local and international). Not only will this put the Rwandan judiciary on the spot, it will also require that the prosecutor be sure he has what it takes. This of course means he must be willing to allow for the defence to examine and where witnesses are provided, agree to their cross examination.

And given the nature of this case, never mind the trajectory it has been taking since Ingabire first appeared in court, all eyes will be wide open. Alas to whoever bungles. No one said this was easy. I might be apolitical but like in that other Mc Donald advert “I am loving this”.

…over to you little monsters!

Is Rwanda Losing What It Has Gained Since 1994?

By Eleneus Akanga (reposted)

The script most of the world has about Rwanda is of a nation on the verge of losing what it has gained since 1994. Not surprising. Sixteen years ago, Rwanda, many will agree looked a complete write off. The mess that was the genocide had left the country on its bare minimum, with no clean water, no hospitals, no justice system or infrastructure and a people who saw themselves as either victims or perpetrators.

So much needed fixing. The marauding Interahamwe had been defeated, the killings halted and a new government promised so much in terms of development and getting the country back on track. At the centre of all this, a certain Maj. Gen Paul Kagame, was pulling the strings. After successfully leading the force that took over Kigali, he embarked on forming an inclusive government, with the aim of uniting Rwandans. Not to credit him for trying or at least for the economic progress that Rwanda has witnessed during this period, would be unfair.

There is going to be the argument about the time spent in power. People can rightly argue that he has had so much time to do what he has done, and that with as much aid that Rwanda has received during his tenure, any fit-for-purpose human being would have performed.

This may be true but you still would have needed someone with character. While President Kagame has the character, has had the luck, agility and steady fastness, he truly is no saint. So often, he has been discovered as wanting in statesmanship, democracy and ability to engage perceived enemies.

Mr. Kagame is from the school of thought who consider dissent as being irrational, uncalled for, and therefore, something which must be fought. To Kagame, leaders are meant to be respected and any divergent views must be expressed directly through stipulated channels (in most cases, composed of his most trusted lieutenants) and on which he has ultimate control. In doing so, he has centralised power, creating or promoting a circle of top trusted friends, who many see as the inner circle, that is out to make or break Rwanda. Remember, this is a government, which accused their predecessors of promoting the infamous “Akazu” a top circle grouping of Juvenile Habyalimana’s trusted cadres, believed to have executed the genocide.

So, when Hilary Clinton, says that “We really don’t want to see Rwanda undermine its own remarkable progress by beginning to move away from a lot of the very positive actions that undergirded its development so effectively,” she has a point.

Culture of Silence

Rwanda’s problem has been and continues to be the inexplicable silence embraced by her citizens who despite having mixed feelings about what is going on inside their country choose to either pretend that everything is right, or keep numb about all. Silence in Rwanda, is a virtue. Anything said, risks being misinterpreted for the bad and after years of experience, Rwandans have learnt to gag themselves, or control their speech. It is a culture not only of silence but self censorship as well.

While silence insulates some of the prevalent anger from some members of society at say such things as governance issues, imbalance in power, lack of political space or a not very fair policy, some say, on unity and reconciliation, it encourages pretence. In Rwanda today, there are people who believe that the government should have borrowed a leaf from South Africa’s handling of apartheid, when dealing with genocide and its effects. But because such rhetoric risks being interpreted as a way of inciting public anger, a possible crime under the genocide ideology law, many choose to stay silent and instead moan about it to friends and relatives under closed doors. The government then, gets the feeling that the policy is working when in actual fact, it is the silence and the fear of persecution or being wrongly misinterpreted, which are keeping argument, at bay.

Normally, when members of the public are so afraid to speak out, the onus falls on the media to express people’s views. But the media in Rwanda remains dysfunctional. Weeks after a critical journalist was shot under circumstances that we may never establish, another, Saidati Mukakibibi, has been arrested for comparing Kagame to Hitler. The state maintains her writings would have incited public disorder and promoted divisionism. I asked a government minister if Kagame has become so incomparable that trying to find a comparison amounts to a criminal offence. On top of insisting that I don’t quote him, the minister believes “the police should not have over reacted to someone’s personal opinion although the president deserves respect”. Hitler, the minister added, “can not be the best comparison you can have”.

If Hitler is worse a comparison, then who is, I asked?  He hung up before answering. My chat with the minister goes to explain what many struggle to see with Rwandan politics. In Rwanda, you either, dance to the melody of “Kagame is Lord”, “the best we ever had” and keep your bread, or challenge his views and risk being done for either corruption, genocide or immorality. If a minister finds it hard speaking to journalists, even when he is giving a plain statement, imagine how it must feel being a local and standing out to challenge the establishment, inside Rwanda?

Is there hope?

A friend of mine asked me this particular question the other day on Facebook. While I believe in hope being abundant, I know it takes some convincing to tell people it is there when you have pregnant mothers being imprisoned for attending peaceful demonstrations, opposition party members like Bernard Ntaganda, the founder president of PS-Imberakuri being denied their constitutional right to bail and some opposition party activists simply disappearing, as in the case Andrew Kagwa Rwisereka of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.

The future looks not so clear and I am sure there are so many Rwandans out there, who would love to see Clinton, demand freedoms from Rwanda’s iron man, instead of meandering around diplomatic language and deploring the fact that Rwanda is in danger of losing what it has gained since 1994.

America, just like other Western countries should rethink their relationship with Mr. Kagame, not for his sake but that of democracy and Rwandans.  Like Timothy Kalyegira put it the other day, for all the fine wine, decorations and music at a wedding party, it is resolving differences, balancing needs and compromises that are the core of a marriage.

Over to you my little monsters…

Mr. Amb Kimonyo Sir, It Helps to be Prudent

I have known prudence as the characteristic of exercising sound judgement. As a Christian I have also known that as a virtue, prudence takes into account the four cardinal virtues; one of which is restraint or temperance.

Accordingly, prudence is often associated with wisdominsight, and knowledge. In these cases, the virtue is the ability to judge between virtuous and vicious actions, not only in a general sense, but with regard to appropriate actions at a given time and place. Distinguishing when acts are courageous, as opposed to reckless or cowardly, for instance, is an act of prudence, and it is for this reason that it is classified as a cardinal virtue.

The great philosopher Plato identified prudence as one of the virtues associated with rulers and reason. He was right. To quote the famous line in Spiderman the movie; with great power comes great responsibility. It is therefore very important that people in positions of power act not only with reason but virtuously. When those we consider brilliant act in ways that may be regarded irresponsible, it becomes hard to even trust whether they actually stand for anything.

Reading James Kimonyo’s piece published on the Foreign Policy Journal website, September 11, I was left wondering whether we as a people from Rwanda have learnt anything from our history. Amb Kimonyo is regarded by some as one of Rwanda’s best and may be it is the reason President Paul Kagame chose him to represent Kigali’s interests in Washington.

But while he ought as a selected public servant, endeavour to work towards pleasing and advancing the interest of the man who gave him the job, it is extremely loutish of him to forget the wishes of those from whose taxes, his salary is drawn.

Countering a previous article by one Sherelle Jacobs, Amb Kimonyo makes one sweeping statement which as an ambassador and someone whose position really demands prudence, ought to have carefully considered before committing himself to.

He wrote “While we encourage open debate on Rwanda politics and policies, it is important to accurately capture the events unfolding in the country”.

Great observation given what has and continues to go on in Rwanda. Mr. Kimonyo is until then, a man of integrity. And since this particular sentence was the second of his piece, few would have doubted he would stagger away so soon.

He goes on to talk about the concluded elections, noting that to him, they were fair because they were highly watched by the international media – something he uses as proof that democracy is thriving in Rwanda. Really? Since when did democracy depend on coverage of elections or how much publicity an election received at any given time?

Amb Kimonyo is not happy that despite what he sees as progress in Rwanda, many critics still mistakenly think the elections were unfair. How, you might ask. Look at his his next paragraph and you will know why Mr. Kimonyo belongs to that school of thought yet to discover prudence.

“Many point to the case of Victorie Ingabire to support their accusations that the 2010 elections were not free.  Ingabire lived in the Netherlands until the 2010 elections were announced, when she moved to Rwanda to run for the position of president.  Upon arrival, Ingabire stood on the graves of Tutsis lost during the 1994 genocide and called upon Rwanda to remember the Hutus, a group who carried out the bulk of the killings—an act that insults the memory and recovery of the Rwandan people who have spent the last 16 years trying to move on from ethnic divisions,” writes Kimonyo.

He goes on to accuse her of working with the FDLR, “Ingabire has been implicated by the UN report to have been working with this group and actively funding them, which increases and intensifies the killing, rape and destruction in the region.  We cannot have someone who feeds such violence and hatred as the president of Rwanda.”

Wow…some awakening there! Kimonyo is simply implying that his government was right to bar Ms.Ingabire from contesting because among other reasons, she had lived out of the country for so long.

Even if it clear that Rwandan constitution which Amb Kimonyo is sworn to, does not prevent returnees from contesting, he thinks it is about time, this reasoning, was used against the most feared opposition politician in Rwanda. He completely ignores or chooses to neglect the fact that President Paul Kagame and most of those serving in Rwanda today, lived out of the country for twice the period Ms. Ingabire is said to have lived out. Kagame for instance was out of Rwanda for an incredible 30 years.

Amb Kimonyo, then goes on to make the most outrageous sweeping statement ever “.Upon arrival, Ingabire stood on the graves of Tutsis lost during the 1994 genocide and called upon Rwanda to remember the Hutus, a group who carried out the bulk of the killings…” Really? So Hutus are a group who carried out the bulk of the killings? Outrageous indeed! The Ambassador is implicitly stating that Hutus are a killer race, which obviously is worrying, especially since Mr. Kimonyo is the man representing the interest of Rwandans (majority of who are Hutu) in Washington.

Unless Mr. Kimonyo comes out to publicly apologise and change this outrageous statement, on grounds of equal justice, he should be charged under our very own Genocide Ideology Law. If people have had to serve years for just questioning the events of 1994, then what of an official that has stood up to claim that Hutus are a group that carried out the bulk of the killings?

And to make matters worse, Mr. Kimonyo then argues that Rwanda could not have let Ms. Ingabire, a person who has been implicated by the UN as having links with the FDLR as president of the country. Well that is only viable if it were proven as true. Second, if by inference, Mr.Kimonyo is saying that the UN is a great organisation only when it pushes for information that  implicates perceived government enemies.

If the current UN report which has raised so much dust around the Great Lakes region was to point to the fact that Rwandan forces, besides committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide, did also support some militias in the Congo – militias that for years wrecked the lives of innocent civilians there – can we trust Kimonyo to say exactly the same of his boss, who interestingly is now in serving in the position that Ms. Ingabire can not?

Like I said in the beginning, prudence is very important. Rwandans now need neither political spin nor humming subservience but strong minds. Minds that are not influenced by lies or the desire to exact revenge but the willngness to serve and develop in a manner that benefits not a few, but many. And Mr. Kimonyo, from what I just read, I am afraid you don’t seem to reflect this sort of mindset – in which case, I will pass you over to my little monsters…

Rwandans; Is Kagame willing to give power to You?

By Eleneus Akanga

The planning had been as meticulous as the voting that preceded this event. Having successfully come through as winner of the predictable presidential election on August 9, this was a day Kagame and his supporters knew was coming. And boy, did they plan.

After all, Kigali is known for its pristine and tidy streets, so most of their job was already cut. A few decorations here and there and everything would be in motion. People were asked to turn up in numbers and business in the city, especially near the national stadium came to a standstill. If you did not make it to the stadium due to heavy security or venue capacity limits, you had no reason not to stay at home and watch it on national television. Giant screens were erected around for those that would claim they did not have televisions at home.

Somewhere across town, the cult figure that is Paul Kagame prepared to cut his cake and serve it, as dignitaries from far and near, ensconced themselves in comfy seats, waiting to witness history. Oh yes, history! History because not long, someone would stand in their midst, take his oath and become the first ever head of state to assume a second seven year term in office. To put this in context, that is 2 years short of 3 presidential terms in any of his neighbouring countries and 2 years short of a possible 4 American Presidents, assuming each served only one term, or 2 if each served the legally accepted 2 terms.

This was a day that had come right on the heels of mounting pressure on Kigali. Pressure – resulting from heavy criticism of a regime and government that the guest of honour understands as being on the right path. If there was going to ever be an opportunity for President Kagame to put one past his critics or for Kigali to express how confused and angry it is at those who continue to question its style of leadership, his overall judgement, or his role in the politics of the region, this was it.

And he took the invite it with open arms. “It is difficult for us to comprehend those who want to give us lessons on inclusion, tolerance and human rights. We reject all their accusations. Self-proclaimed critics of Rwanda may say what they want, but they will neither dictate the direction we take as a nation, nor will they make a dent in our quest for self determination,” he roared.

With his face grimacing in what some will have viewed as fear as opposed to his cowboy seriousness, the one time member of Africa’s new brood of leaders continued:

“These external actors turn around and promote the dangerous ideas of those who have fallen out with the system; ignoring the choices of the majority of our people … it is evidence of hypocrisy and a patronizing attitude towards our entire continent”.

For all his greatness and his one time grand vision for the country, President Kagame remains a peculiar character. For reasons well known to him, he views critics as self styled. He has never understood or blatantly chooses to ignore that critics are what any one needs to be perfect. He has this feeling that for some weird reason or a deliberate sort of raison d’être, certain people hate him and his people. And he can’t stand these critics leave alone the thought of getting lessons from them.

As someone who is understood to have brought an end to the genocide (some contest this), Kagame would rather he earned maximum praise. He sees Rwanda as his brain child, a nation which needs him so badly, that without him, it would extinguish away in flames. He also sees the world, as gradually ganging up against him by siding with or lending a few ears to his critics. And for this he wants a fight.

The Kagame we saw today is the Kagame we saw some 3 years ago in front of dignitaries at then Hotel Intercontinental, chastising and directly telling off dignitaries most notably the French ambassador to Rwanda at the time for his country’s decision to prosecute some of his men. Now, fighting for fellow countrymen is a sign of solidarity, but this fight has got to be both reasonable and appropriate. President Kagame needs to know that sometimes, over reaction, can come through either as a sign of guilt or weakness.

While I understand his anger and his desire to put his point across, I am not overly convinced that he has to use his swearing in ceremony to moralize his beatitudes.  Anyone would be angry. Everyone human would be so angry if after years of innocence, their army as well as their person suddenly stood accused of crimes against humanity – especially by an organisation they themselves accuse of folding its arms against them when they needed help. Angry rhetoric is no solution. While it may help send a clear message to your accuser to expect a tough fight, like I said before, it risks creating the impression that the noisemaker is wary of something.

Mr. President, everyone remembers how easily you swept through the election, winning 93 percent of the vote. We know too that according to you, dependency on aid and not the lack of democracy is Africa’s major problem. Is it not fair that after all these years in power, you should return power to the people as provided for in the constitution, decentralise power and provide for free speech and press freedom. And that way, “we the people” can have a proper debate on the way forward for this wonderful nation that you so easily are tilting towards a dictatorship?

To Be or Not to Be; Is the story changing in Rwanda?

By Eleneus Akanga

Some things, you just can’t buy. You either have them in abundance or they are scarce and rare. Their abundance often scams recipients into comfort zones where everything is assumed constant until that time when supply becomes skewed.

Then, we start reacting differently. Some people blame their handlers while others choose to place all the blame on others. Yes, others because it is easier to blame someone else than take full responsibility ourselves.

Most Rwandese of my age have grown up to the story that 16 years ago, their countrymen took to the streets and villages killing fellow countrymen on a scale never witnessed anywhere in the world. In what we have known as the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Rwanda is said to have lost close to 1,000,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus when the Interahamwe militia went on rampage. And that it was the Rwandese Patriotic Army under current president Paul Kagame who brought this sad chapter to an end by taking over Kigali in July 1994.

President Paul Kagame has built his reputation on this very fact and his government has been systematic as they have been consistent, in pressing forward this version of the story. With ending the genocide under his belt, President Kagame has seen his image soar and has rightfully won a host of accolades for his overall performance as Rwanda’s head of state.

Many around the world including former US president Bill Clinton were not shy to refer to him as one of the best leaders Africa has seen. He was on all accounts, a man of great integrity, so highly regarded across the globe that 8 months ago, any criticism of his style of leadership or version of events –as happened in 1994 – was bound to be viewed as nothing but a disgruntled rant from naysayers.

Just last month, President Kagame’s government came under heavy criticism for stifling free speech when it suspended two local newspapers Umuvugizi and Umuseso in the run-up to presidential elections. Then as the world opened their eyes up for the apparent lack of democracy in a country that had a couple of months earlier suspended and refused a visa to a Human Rights Watch researcher for a discrepancy in visa documents, Rwanda refused to register the country’s only genuine opposition parties in FDU-Inkingi and Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.

The coincidental shooting of Jean Leonard Rugambage the Umuvugizi editor whose publication happened at the time to be investigating the suspected assassination of Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former army Chief of Staff in a foreign country and the murder of Andrew Kagwa Rwisereka, the vice chairman of the Greens did not help matters. Kigali and Kagame came under the spotlight.

But as bad press (or the truth) depending on how you look at it continued to come in, Kagame and his men tirelessly worked on his re-election. He pulled crowds each day on campaign rallies and as expected won comfortably with over 93 percent of the vote, giving him another seven year term.

For some time, the Rwandan story as told by the RPF and Kagame has stood unchallenged as we know it. Those who have dared question the official story have either been charged under the genocide law for negationism and genocide denial as with Victoire Ingabire, Bernard Ntaganda and a host of opposition party supporters arrested during a demonstration. American law Prof. Peter Erlinder had to endure a spell in a Kigali jail for expressing his opinions on what he thinks the Rwandan story should be.

But if the events in Rwanda in the run up to, during and after the elections have not provided the current government with something to really think about, the revelation that the national army may have committed crimes tantamount to genocide against Hutus in Congo will surely give everyone in government something to help argue.

A leaked report from the UN high commissioner for human rights says that after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Tutsi-led Rwandan troops and their rebel allies killed tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group inside the Congo.

If this is true, it brings into fore a hitherto untold version of the Rwandan story. It would appear that a government whose image has been created on bringing an end to the Rwandan genocide is the same government whose forces committed yet another.

According to the leaked report, “The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who were often undernourished and posed no threat to the attacking forces.” The report goes on to say the crimes committed by Rwandan forces amount to “crimes against humanity, war crimes, or even genocide.”

It is the heaviest ever statement ever written against the Rwandan government. We all remember how Kigali reacted three years ago when French Judge Jean Louis Bruguire issued arrest warrants for members of the Rwandan government; we remember too how the same government reacted when a Spanish judge accused Kagame and his men of atrocities. To think that Rwanda will let this go without a proper fight is akin to forgetting so easily, for if there is anything Kagame is so afraid of at this moment in time, it is a damning report showing or even suggesting complicity in an atrocity he has so effectively used against his enemies both real and purported.

Honey Moon Over?

Rwanda has long claimed it attacked Hutu camps in eastern Congo to pursue those responsible for the killings of over 800,000 Tutsis in the Rwandan genocide. But the report marks the first time the UN has accused Rwandan forces of deliberately attacking the tens of thousands of Hutu civilians who also had fled. For some time, Rwanda has received good coverage and good press from most western countries partly because Kagame was seen as a good chap to work with. Secondly the guilt of forsaking Rwanda in 1994 when she needed the international community’s help has curtailed the West’s moral ability to criticise the guy who is known largely for stopping the genocide.

No wonder Kigali was quick to dismiss the report. The country has threatened too, to withdraw any of its servicemen from UN peacekeeping missions if the report is published. Why threaten if you know you have nothing to do with what is alleged in the report? Either way, withdrawing troops would serve as testament that Rwanda is doing the right thing; there obviously would be no moral right for a country whose forces are genocide perpetrators to then go ahead keeping peace. Maintaining deployed troops in their designated locations will also bring into question whether accused troops should really continue in positions where they are paid for by an organisation in whose report they stand accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Way Out

I was speaking to one of the officials in Kigali yesterday and he seemed to agree that this is a very damning report. He however contends that it might help bring to into line, the possibility if there ever was, of the ruling RPF (majority of which are Tutsis) to sit down with Hutu representatives for an open debate that will seek to establish what actually happened.

He did not want to add any more voices to this assertion just like he asked me not to even think of quoting him. But even with such an open debate, the atrocities committed in Congo if proven to be true and linked to the Rwandan forces would call not only for open debates but successful convictions at the Hague.

I have even had my old friends in Kigali trash the report and instead heap the blame on the UN for in the first place; failing to pass UN Resolution 1706 that would have seen the organisation send more troops to Rwanda. It is one of those very old classic colonial thoughts where we Africans tend to easily refuse to accept responsibility and instead shift the blame to others. For, the question is not why the UN failed to send more troops but whether as a nation whose people had lived together and spoke the same language, we should have been involved in the kind of savagery that we found ourselves into before, during and now, after the genocide?

Over to you my little monsters…

Should We Run and Hide now That Kagame is President?

By Eleneus Akanga

There are those who believe the presidential election in Rwanda was nothing else but an illegitimate consecration of President Paul Kagame. There even are some who did refer to the election as a “selection with no choice given” and have refused to accept it as valid.

So are those who feel that the reported massive turn out on election day and the subsquent total number of votes cast in favour of Kagame, is testament that Rwandans still love the former rebel leader.

Whatever the belief, there is one fact that stands out. Kagame is now Rwanda’s president and will at least legally or illegally remain so till 2017. It is a fact that the two sets of protagonists have got to contend with. How and whether they should, is a different matter, alltogether.

If there is anything Africa’s strongmen have managed to effectively do,hang on to power is that thing. From Uganda to Libya, Chad, Sudan and Egypt, Africa has had it’s fair share of authoritarians or longest serving presidents if you may. Trouble is, as in the case of Kagame, those in question have laid claim to the fact they were democratically voted back into power. Even where it has neccessitated tampering or ammending the constituions for them to get to the ballot paper, the result in those cases has passed as legitimate because such is democracy as understood in authoritarian countries.

Kagame has said previously that this should and will be his last term as head of state and for purposes of objectivity, he probably deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Writing in the FT last week (August 19) he maintained that “competitive democracy requires sustained social cohesion”. His argument was pitched on the very note his leadership has defended its vice-like grip on political pruralism for years – the one that 16 years they have had is too short a time for competitive politics.

“Many also fail to understand that it was precisely a system of pluralistic politics that played a major role in the genocide, as newly formed parties with shared extremist ideology outperformed the former one-party state in mobilising the population to commit mass murder,” he argued.

To Kagame, pruralistic politics breed divisionism and chaos and should thus,be avoided. While he may be true, his assertion brings into fore a few observations. One, that for 16 years Kagame has failed, despite his economic prowess, to promote genuine unity among Rwandans and fears the message of forgiveness and reconciliation is yet to be accepted after all these years. Two, that he now looks increasingly even more authoritarian compared to his predecessor as far as political space is concerned. And three, which probably is more worrying, that his country’s much touted and publicized peaceful co-existence between victims and perpetrators, is just a bubble waiting to explode.

While it is important to work toward ensuring that what happened in 1994 does not happen ever again, success on this matter wont come from the duration granted for wounds to heal but a genuine and well thought arrangement where both sides take to an open and clear debate about what actually happened.

Some people will argue that Kagame has done his best and continues to, and therefore with enough time, will deliver. Well to this group of thinkers, I say hold it. Everyone knows that Kagame has consistently avoided such politics as the politics of open debate. His crackdown on independent media, his continued fall out with those who oppose and question his repressive style of leadership notwithstanding, his government’s decision this year not to register the only credible opposition parties and the incarceration of Victoire Ingabire – the only politician to ever call for an open debate about the country’s history, went to show just how unprepared Kagame is for this sort of debate. The question then becomes not one of can he, but rather that of for how long.

The Rwandan story under Kagame is destined to that sad fact where even after 100 years, the same wounds that have taken 16 years to heal might still be very raw and well visible, if the current policy is maintained. And that to me would not be progress. It is what happens when you know the truth but instead choose the slightly easier option because the truth hurts or you feel the time is not ripe. Some scholars have even suggested that Rwanda’s issues would quite easily be sorted by embracing the model taken by South Africa after apartheid – a notion that Kagame appears to be totally opposed to probably because it dictates that the two sides get to open up and confess to their atrocities. And when one side has been pleading complete innocence for 16 years, you get the idea of why such a move can only succeed without the incumbent.

And it is worse. You have to feel for the real opposition in Rwanda when an under pressure president after getting the hint that the world has began to understand how he really conducts his business and will soon be demanding real answers to the pertinent questions, suddenly speaks about forming some sort of coalition government. (I will write in detail about this in my next piece).

Kagame is a very tactical guy. In his heart, he knows the truth. He knows forinstance that his style of leadership is one he would have struggled to stomach himself had he been in the opposition’s shoes. He knows that his government has made and continues to make it extremely tough for free speech to succeed in Rwanda. He knows that what he refers to as his opposition is not but just a group of strategists and RPF sympathisers who for the sake of keeping their jobs have agreed to play opposition when in actual sense, they are subsets of the ruling political party. But he does not give a damn like he said before. To calm the nerves of the international community, he will open up or pretend to be opening up for power sharing but only share with his own. Notice too, that Rwanda has theoretically embraced some sort of a coalition government ever since the country formed the Forum for Political Parties in 2002. So why make a fuss about it now? Because it diverts the attention.

To those unaware of his true character, such a move will be seen as a clear indication that he is an inclusive president intent on sharing power. Share power? Remember this is a gentleman who in the early 90s refused a power sharing agreement with then president and instead went ahead with war. But this cannot be used against him really as people do change – may be he has changed! It however remains to be seen if Kagame can really be trusted, which raises the question, is he really going to step down come 2017?

As for those who do not subscribe to his principles and style of leadership, the times are getting harder. Just yesterday, I read that Lt. Col Rugigana Ngabo, has been arrested on charges of “destabilisation”. Despite the Rwandan army confirming the arrest, Col Ngabo’s wife seems to have no idea as to the whereabouts of her husband or where he is being detained. And when you consider that the colonel is brother to exiled former army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, you get the picture of what Gen Nyamwasa said in his first interview to Voice of America about Rwandan officials living in fear, so much that comrades and friends alike are no longer associating with one another for fear of being labelled “the bad guys”. Now that Kagame is president again, when he surely should have been sitting home looking after his cattle and reading books about his role in the Rwandan history, should we run and hide?

…over to you my little monsters.