By: Jennifer Fierberg
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has sidestepped the question of running for a third term as President for the last few years. He has eluded journalists when they have asked him specifically about his future plans and has even gone as far as insulting some reporters telling them that it was none of their business what Rwanda does.
However, over the last six months President Kagame has staged quite the brilliant reverse coup in order to remain in office. In a much publicized parade of support, many Rwandan citizens paraded into Parliament with what they claim is 3.6 million signatures who support the re-election of Kagame as president out of the 12 million citizens of the country. Ironically, another report was published that only 10 people oppose his reelection in the entire population. This statistic is as hard to believe as Mr. Kagame winning 93% of the popular vote in 2010 during his 2nd “reelection.”
Some online comments elucidate the conversation in a much more tangible way:
“Kagame is the worst dictator and murderer the world has known. Only comparable to Adolph Hitler. On his account we have 6 million Congolese deaths, 4 African presidents (Habyarimana his predecessor, Ntaryamira and Ndadaye of Burundi, Kabila of Congo).He is accused by the UN mapping report for having committed genocide on his country mates, the Hutus in Congo killing more than 250,000. He started the 1994 Rwandan genocide by downing the plane carrying his predecessor and now he pretends to have stopped it. He has killed and jailed any dissenting voice in Rwanda, Hutu or Tutsi. No opposition exist in his Rwanda. There is fear everywhere and the state police and military control everyone and everything.”
“Rwandans people have no choice than to say “yes” to everything Kagame and his military junta want. Most of the population were forced to sign petitions asking for third term and the change of the constitution to allow Kagame to be a life president. Nobody can dare say “no” to that, otherwise you will be in trouble and even lose your life. People were very scared to death and they signed those petitions to avoid jail and disappearances.”
President Paul Kagame is a well-known dictator who took power in the regional war of 1994 where he was backed by President Museveni of Uganda as well as the US Government. Kagame has an active arrest warrant with the Spanish Government for war crimes during the 1994 civil war but due to presidential immunity he remains untouchable. Further, there are 19 years’ worth of reports by reputable sources which report that Kagame is responsible for over 6 million deaths in DR Congo and the complete oppression and silence of his own citizens.
Just last month, Rwanda Parliament approved the constitutional change to allow President Kagame to run for a 3rd term. Parliament members stated, “They were responding to the demands of the people.”
The U. S. Government has responded quickly to this constitutional change and clearly stated that they will not support a 3rd term for Mr. Kagame. “John Kirby, spokesman for the State Department, called on Mr. Kagame to honour his previous commitment to respect term limits. “We do not support those in positions of power changing constitutions solely for their political self-interest,” he said.”
While Kagame was once hailed as a strong leader his reputation for rigidity and ruling with an iron fist have preceded him. He is no longer, and was never, the type of leader Africa needs. He is often considered the “Hitler of Central Africa” and likened to Kim Jong Un of North Korea in how he rules his country.
A Rwandan political opposition party, led by former close members of the Rwandan government, published the following statement today in response to the announcement by the US government on Kagame seeking a third term:
Rwanda National Congress welcomes the United States statement, released September 4th, 2015 on President Kagame’ s decision to amend the constitution and permit him to run for a third term beyond 2017. The statement came after Rwanda’s political opposition parties in partnership with Civil Society protests in Brussels on August 14th, and South Africa on September 3rd, 2015 against third term for President Kagame.
Rwanda National Congress takes this opportunity to ask other Rwanda donor countries to do the same and condemn this shameful and unconstitutional act to temper with article 101 of the 2003 Rwanda Constitution which restricts Presidential terms to no more than two terms. The second and last term for President Kagame expires in 2017.
Rwanda National Congress reminds Rwandans, President Kagame, his government and the International Community that it will continue to fight for Rwanda People’s right until Rwandans are free from the dictatorship and oppression.
Turayishimye Jean Paul
Rwanda National Congress
Should Kagame remain in office for a 3rd term it remains to be seen how the international community, which provides 40% of the national budget in aid, will respond to his reverse coup. Mr. Kagame should understand fully that no one is fooled by this transparent political move.