For two years in a row, the government of Rwanda the President in particular, has been a lot in the news for the wrong reasons.
His visit to Chicago on 11th June, 2011, did not go as planned –it was interrupted with deafening protests by Rwandan, Congolese and other African nationals living across North America and others who came from as far as Europe who flew to Chicago to take part in denouncing President Kagame as an assassin. This is in reference to shooting down a presidential Falcon Jet on April 6th, 1994 which claimed the lives of all on board including two presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprian Ntaryamira, of Rwanda and Burundi respectively. Protesters were also condemning the murderous dictatorship RPF has been in Rwanda the past seventeen years.
Later on October 12th 2011, President Kagame made an official visit to France. Here again, he was welcomed with barbs than bouquets. President Kagame’s lowest moment in diplomatic relations was however served to him in the United Kingdom when British authorities cancelled his visit there. The British police had unearthed a Rwandan government plot to assassinate political exiles resident in the UK.
The on-going trial of Victoire Ingabire in Kigali has not helped President Kagame’s sort. It is based on concocted evidence and fabricated testimony, and poorly done that it is so apparent for all who care, to see that it is nothing other than a political witch hunt.
On October 5, 2010, the United Nations released a mapping report or more accurately parts thereof, of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was suggested in this report that Rwandan government soldiers were directly responsible for the commission of these crimes. Even if this report was shelved due to pressure from some quarters in the west that were not ready to deal with the fallout, the damage was already done. It should be taken note of that, this mapping report did not reveal any thing new as far as Rwanda soldiers killing an pillaging crimes in DRC are concerned but what the report did was to give credence and weight to what we have always known and denounced.
The defection of four of “who is who” within RPF namely; Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa (Army Chief of Staff), Rudasingwa Theogene (RPF General Secretary), Gahima Gerald (Attorney General) and Col. Karegeya Patrick (Director of External Security) was a haemorrhage of monumental proportions. RPF will never recover from it however much they downplay and banalise it. It was a final blow that broke the invisible steel thread that weaved together the RPF family.
Since then, all other RPF Asili (who considered the party as their very own to protect at all cost), it was dawned unto them that they were mere expendables. The two groups that are singing the RPF song these days are the ‘dyed-in-the wool’ fanatics, who make no contribution to the development of the party and the ‘Johns-come-lately’ who are in the party for their own stomachs rather than what RPF as a party stands for. The former category would not know how to protect and defend the party if it was in trouble and the later would not hesitate to hang it to dry if they read the signs of the end game.
Whither art Thou Rwandan Opposition
Amidst all these upheavals, revulsions, and back stabbings within RPF party, the Kagame led government is in no imminent danger of crumbling. Governments rarely collapse on their own. It takes a determined and organised opposition who capitalise on the governments mistakes to push it out of power. It is such opposition that Rwanda is lacking to disperse RPF elements and an extra-ordinarily arrogant President out of power.
I am naturally an optimistic person but I also know the difference between optimism and wishful thinking. After seventeen years, one would imagine that those opposed to Kagame and his ways must have mastered effective ways and means to destroy him. If Kagame was a subject of study, then seventeen years is more than enough to have become experts on effective methods of ridding the country of a tyrant and those who eat with him, yet this is not happening.
Over the years, the Rwanda opposition has been under-going a never ending metamorphosis; new groups have been formed, merged, split, re-merged or allied and back to where it all began. There is an element of opportunism that guides important players within the opposition which does not give a lot of hope to the Rwandan people. It is a given, that majority of Rwanda people hate and fear Kagame and his killing machine but having them ready to manifest their anger and resolve will take a more promising opposition that is visionary, patriotic, democratic and more just.
When one talks about political opposition in Rwanda, it is in reference mostly to opposition groups in the Diaspora. In RPF Rwanda, there is no legal internal opposition. All the political parties registered as opposition parties are in essence President Kagame’s back-up plan to parade to the international community as his political opposition. These are parties which, during presidential election period, present Kagame as their candidate even before RPF his own party does. Recently, the Ideal Political Party president started campaigning for a third term for Kagame. This is a world record, a president of a political party seeking re-election of his opponent even beyond constitutional terms. This is political sycophancy at its worst. It is not any where on record that any of the so-called opposition parties in Rwandan parliament has held an opposing view from that of RPF on any policy matter.
Parties are allowed to register as opposition parties only when they accept to ally themselves to RPF and the later calculates that the former does not pose any electoral threat but will in fact help the image make-over of the president and his dictatorship. This is precisely the reason the Rwandan government will never accept to register FDU-Inkingi as a party in Rwanda when it (RPF) still views FDU as a potential worthy opponent unless it is forced to.
Politics in the 21st century as is any other field is no longer a purely local affair. The International Community is suffering from anathema of crises in which it is obliged by ‘the responsibility to protect’, to intervene. As such, as long as their direct interests are not threatened, powerful nations will not intervene in any nation’s internal affairs simply to demand more democracy, human rights and good governance. In fact, they will as much as possible avoid raffling the status-quo without guarantees of a peaceful change –(unless if were in there direct geo-political/economic interest to do so) and there is no such thing as guaranteed outcome in the 21st political world.
The above is the case for Rwanda. The fact that the president of Rwanda is a possible criminal, who if tried, might be found guilty of crimes against humanity and possibly crimes amounting to genocide, is not unknown. The so-called international community however worry of what the Kagame aftermath might look like. The possibility Rwanda might go the Somalia way discourages many who would want Kagame to account. In an environment like this, a weak and fragmented opposition does not help its case.
From experience, it does not take too much to disorganise the Rwandan opposition. When UDF-Inkingi resolved to participate in the 2010 presidential elections, many within the party rightly thought that there was an actual chance for their party to win the elections. This sparked a stampede in the party where some in the leadership started to opportunistically align themselves for positions that did not even exist. This is how the rift in the party started, it still exists today.
Later, after the arrest and imprisonment of the party president Ingabire Victoire, and after President Kagame was declared the winner of the elections against a fake opposition, followed by the formation of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) by the personalities I mentioned above in paragraph six, all hell broke lose. Indiscipline within UDF-Inkingi reached fever peak. This was all in the name of associating with what seemed to be a group that will defeat Kagame where others failed. Close to two years down the road, to use Jaramogi Oginga Odinga words, “it’s not yet uhuru”!
But as the saying goes, those who don’t make mistakes are those who do nothing, not everybody within UDF-Inkingi got side-tracked. Those who did not jump the gun remained true to the principles and are reorganising. I must add however the formation of RNC is a good development. It is a manifestation of the desperation of the Rwandan people searching ways to rid themselves of the RPF dictatorship. At some point all the opposition parties will have to realise that the principle objective is to establish democracy and the rule of law in Rwanda. They will have to find ways of working together without undermining each other.
La Lucha Continùa!
Commissioner for Foreign Affairs relations