May 19, 2010 – A Citizen’s Weekly Open Letter to General Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda
By Aimable Mugara
May 19, 2010
H. E. General Paul Kagame
Office of the President
Republic of Rwanda
P.O. Box 15 Urugwiro Village
Kigali – Rwanda
Fax: +250 572431
National Public Prosecution Authority
Kigali – Rwanda
Fax: +250 589501
Commissioner General Emmanuel Gasana
Rwandan National Police
Kigali – Rwanda
Fax: +250 586602
Chief Executive Officer
The New Times Publications SARL
Immeuble Aigle Blanc
P.O. Box 4953
Kigali – Rwanda
A Citizen’s Weekly Open Letter to General Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda
There are 12 weeks left before the elections. This is my tenth letter and there are 12 letters left. This week, Rwanda continues to be an example of what can go wrong in a nation that is devoid of good leadership. The political space continues to be muzzled; citizens’ security in the country continues to get worse, citizens abroad continue to protest and prominent foreign media continue to reveal the true colors of what is actually taking place in Rwanda.
We all heard about your nomination by the RPF party to be their candidate in the August 2010 presidential elections. It was a little shocking to hear that all the other candidates in your party that would have stood against you dropped out via writing and that in the end you stood unopposed. I really hope this will not be the case for the national elections. There is a lot of strength that comes from voters having choices. In the meantime, we saw a request from some opposition parties to delay the upcoming elections, considering that the current situation is not conducive to free and fair elections. This is a request that I wholeheartedly agree with and hope will be implemented. There is no point pretending to have elections when some opposition politicians have been denied the fundamental right to register their parties and some opposition politicians who clearly have a strong chance of winning the elections have been dragged to court on some questionable charges.
Unfortunately there was also the sad news of the 2 grenade attacks in the capital city that killed two people and injured more than 30 people. Such attacks perpetuate the cycle of violence that has plagued our nation for more than 50 years, where various groups including your RPF party have decided to use violence to resolve political issues. The loss of innocent lives in all this violence is deplorable. I call upon you to open up the political space in Rwanda in order to demonstrate that political change can be made peacefully. As long as your government continues to crack down on your political opponents, you will be giving excuses to the groups that believe that violence is the only way to make political change in Rwanda.
Across the ocean in Belgium, we continue to see a group of patriots who for more than 3 weeks have laid siege to the Rwandan embassy there. Ambassador Gérard Ntwari complained to the Belgian ministry of foreign affairs that these demonstrators were tarnishing Rwanda’s image in Belgium. The Belgian authorities rightfully reminded him that it is a democratic country where people have the right to express themselves. Indeed, it is the non-democratic actions of Rwanda’s government that tarnish the country’s image, actions that force these patriots to protest against their country instead of speaking well of it.
On the other side of the oceans, the New York Times once again in its journalistic excellence exposed the truth about what is really going on in Rwanda. We learned about how in the country’s colleges and universities, the much vaunted reconciliation has not taken hold at all. We were also shocked to find out that a university professor was sentenced to 5 years in jail because one of his students reported to the police that this professor insulted you. There is something quite rotten about a university professor being sentenced to 5 years in jail for apparently insulting the president. This puts our country right in the middle of the Dark Ages, more than two thousand years ago. I really hope this professor is freed immediately, as this is no way to run a nation.
Sometime I try really hard to understand your government’s actions. On one hand, your government talks a lot about wanting what is good for the nation in the long-term. But on the other hand, many of the actions taken seem to benefit only a select few in the short term and cause a lot of problems for everyone over the long haul. If you really care for the long-term well-being of our nation, there is no benefit in continuing to crack down on opposition politicians. Similarly, there is no benefit in continuing to deny the citizens so many of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Toronto, Ontario Canada