Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two senior military officials arrested

I interpret the arrest of both Lieutenant General Charles Muhire and Major General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake on allegations of corruption and immorality, respectively, as cracks in the facade of RPF power. See the BBC article here.

In his speech in commemoration of the 16th anniversary of the genocide, President Kagame issued a thinly veiled threat against his political opponents, saying that there would be "chaos" if they continued to call for democracy in the language of genocide ideology. It is not at all clear that they are using the language of genocide ideology, not only because the law is unclear and arbitrarily applied, but also because the opposition is choosing its words carefully, in efforts to respect the law. Kagame is using the word "chaos" as a substitute for violence, that the RPF would be perpetrating. Anyone who represents a challenge to Kagame's power in seen as a threat, and must be dealt with harshly.

Muhire and Karake are two long-standing, loyal and senior military men. Is their arrest a sign of a coup? I don't think so; but it does call into question the extent to which Kagame is willing to go to protect his political power, and is perhaps even a sign of unrest in the military.

There is at present not enough information at present to assess accurately the situation on the ground.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Substance please....

For those of you who send personal attacks, mostly about my intellect, to my susanm.thomson@gmail.com account because of what I write on this blog, I am asking you to please stop.

I am more than happy to engage substantive comments, and ask that you make them publicly on the "comments" page of this blog. I will not respond to personal attacks received on this blog or in my inbox.

Instead, let's debate and discuss. If you think I am wrong about this fact or that fact, or I've misinterpreted this piece of evidence or that one, please say so. And tell me why so I can evaluate what you've contributed to our discussion. I will not be bullied or kowtowed into believing that the RPF is prioritising democracy, peace and security over its own grip on political power.

My criticism of the RPF is not to be interpreted as being pro-opposition or anti-Tutsi. I am against all forms of oppression.

My position is, always has been, and always will be, no more loss of life in Rwanda, and neighbouring countries, by any party, ever. The killing must stop.

For the record, I still believe about Rwanda's reconciliation process being a false one as I wrote in The Mark in January 2010.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Most wanted genocide suspect arrested in Kampala

This is a good thing.

The Rwandan government, to the best of my knowledge, has yet to call for Nizeyimana to be transferred to Kigali. This is not a statement of support for the ICTR. Instead, I think his arrest is potentially good for ending the culture of impunity in the GLR. However, he should not be tried in Kigali due to lack of judicial independence.

Nizeyimana's might bring to light the lack of judicial independence in Rwanda to broader international audience....

This is not a good thing. The idea the Interahamwe did not train as a militia in Kigali is absurd. It also feeds into the rhetoric of genocide deniers and revisionist, giving the appearance of credibility to the RPF's claims that it must rule Rwanda with an iron-fist, lest ethnic divisionism rear its ugly head again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

more tightening of government control: media censorship

The Rwandan government is after the media again, this time without linking the suspension of two Kinyarwanda-language papers to any specific article or journalist.

Yesterday, Rwanda's Media High Council (MHC) suspended Umuseso and Umuvugizi for six months. This means that both papers will be unable to comment on the upcoming August presidential elections. THe MHC accused Umuseso of insulting President Kagame, inciting the army and policy to insubordination and for fear mongering among the population. There is no substantive evidence to support these accusations, nor were the charges linked to a specific published article. The government-controlled MHC suspended Umuvugizi without citing any reasons for the suspension.

Under Rwanda's new media law, passed into law in August 2009, media outlets cannot be suspended for more than two weeks.

More critically, there is no alternate source of media in Rwanda at the moment. The New Times, Rwanda's English-language daily, is the most prominent publication. It is widely believed to operate at the behest of the RPF as editorial policy is set in coordination with the MHC.

Another point for authoritarianism in post-genocide Rwanda....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Politicising Memory

Instead of commemorating lives lost in Rwanda in 1994, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, launched into a negative attack on political freedoms and opposition politics. I remain concerned about the levels of hypocrisy exhibited by the ruling RPF and its agents. They want to call the genocide the "genocide of Tutsi" but then outlaw ethnicity so what happened in 1994 cannot be openly discussed. They want to claim (to international and domestic audiences alike) that the country is democratising, but then claim that democracy leads to genocide.

This article, which summarises Kagame's memorial day speech in Kigali, is reflective of elite hypocrisy....

"Foreigners imposing 'hooligans' like Ingabire on Rwanda"
by Chief Editor

In a 45-minute tirade, President Kagame fired at Ingabire, the west and the
Generals. "They call me Hitler... but I'm not bothered"

Kigali - President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused foreign critics of trying to
impose values on Rwanda as well as preferring 'hooligans' to govern the country -
categorically singling-out opposition politician Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, RNA

In a fierry 45-minute address to mark the 16th anniversary of the 1994 Tutsi
Genocide, Mr. Kagame accused the opposition - specifically naming Ms. Ingabire in
person, of "political hooliganism". The President also accused the critics of
"abusing me" in the name of freedom of expression, but said he is "not bothered at

"Some people here want to encouraging political hooliganism," he said in English,
before going into a tirade of attacks on Ingabire, as the crowd behind him was in
constant applause.

"Some people just come from nowhere...useless people...I see every time in pictures
some lady who had her deputy - a Genocide criminal, talking about 'there is Genocide
but there is another'...that is politics...and the world is also saying 'the
opposition leader'..."

The President was referring to Mr. Joseph Ntawangundi, the aide to Ms. Ingabire who
was recently sentenced to 17 years for Genocide.

"They call me Hitler"
In a culmination with loud applause and clapping from the audience, President added:
"To that we say a big no. And if anybody wants a fight, then we will give them a

The President dismissed the notion of free expression as promoted by his foreign
critics such as campaign groups, saying Rwandans know what freedom means more than
anybody else can teach them. He also attacked those he described as "constantly
meddling in our politics" by propagating and making up "lies" about his government.
The President warned his critics of hiding behind freedom of express to "abuse me"
but also added that he does not "give a damn".

"They break tool, they call me Hitler...am not bothered at all...I just hold them in
contempt," he said amid more applause. He wondered how his critics attack him and
"at the same time complain about press freedom?"

"You are even free to abuse people, you have no respect for anything...and you turn
around to complain that you have no freedom to express yourself? ...What more do you
want to express about yourself or about others?"

"Ni watu gani awo?"
Mr. Kagame said "bad national politics converged with bad international politics" to
cause what was being commemorated at today April 07 for the next three months.
"Who are these giving anyone here lessons honestly? ...Ni watu gani awo? ...who are
these? ...are these Rwandans complaining? ...or have they sent you to complain on
their behalf? ..." he wondered in a mixture of English, Kinyarwanda and Swahili,
amid applause.

He added: "These Rwandans you see here and elsewhere are as free, as happy [and] as
proud of themselves, like they have never been in their lives."

The President accused the west of preferring to criticize his government but do not
want to be held responsible for their role in the Genocide. He also said the west
was undermining "our dignity", "our values" and "our pride", arguing that democracy
took time to get to the current level in their countries.

"They wake up in the morning, distort [the] situation, tell lies about
everything...plus they are responsible for many of the things that put here today to
commemorate this Genocide...," he said.

"...yet when they talk about freedom of expression, they don't want you to express
yourself about their responsibility in this Genocide...What freedoms are you
teaching me if you cant take responsibility for the politics that killed one million
people in Rwanda."

The Generals
He added: "I know those who say it and support that, know it is wrong. But [it] is
an expression of contempt these people have for Rwandans and for Africans...that
they think Africans deserve to be led by these hooligans."

Turning his guns on the government officials who are fleeing the country apparently
complaining about "no political space", the President accused them of "running away
from accountability".

"These Generals fleeing the country should not be taken seriously," he said, in
apparent reference to ex-army chief Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has political asylum
in South Africa.

Earlier, Sports and Culture Minister Joseph Habineza also attacked the man behind
the Hollywood movie 'Hotel Rwanda'. Mr. Habineza did not name Mr. Paul Rusesabagina
but was clearly referring to him.

Using poetic speech, the Minister also fired at the vocal opposition causing
laughter in the otherwise somber occasion, saying they are blocking the
reconciliation among Rwandans.