Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch



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Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library


Monday, June 28, 2010

Rwanda accused of intimidation ahead of election


Rwanda accused of intimidation ahead of election
Monday, 28 June 2010 10:28

Hereward Holland

The international community has heaped praise on Rwanda for its rapid socioeconomic recovery after the trauma of genocide 16 years ago, its stability and its bold vision to become a middle-income country by 2020.

Tourism has become the country's largest source of foreign exchange earnings, generating $175 million in 2009.

Some diplomats say President Paul Kagame’s strong leadership and desire to bring in foreign investment makes for quick decision-making and efficient use of aid, although nepotism remains an issue.

He has also set out an ambitious roadmap to transform the nation of around 10 million people into an IT hub and middle income nation.

Foreign diplomats and sources close to the government say deepening rifts within the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) risk undermining the nation's stability.

But while the World Bank may have voted Rwanda the most improved business reformer globally, rifts within the ruling elite and regional insecurity threaten the investment climate.

But his critics accuse him of being authoritarian and stamping on press freedoms and argue social cohesion and development have come at the expense of free speech. Rights groups say there has been a crackdown on critical media and increasingly vocal opposition parties.

In April, two private local-language newspapers were suspended for “insulting” the head of state and “inciting unrest”.

The government says the ban, which runs until after August's presidential election, was not politically motivated. Media watchdogs called it a veiled attempt at censorship.

Rights groups accuse the government of intimidating opposition parties, harassing their leaders and impeding their registration.

Victoire Ingabire, leader of the unregistered United Democratic Forces party, is awaiting trial on charges of crimes linked to genocide.

Ingabire has declared her intention to contest the August 9 ballot but cannot be a candidate until her party is registered.

There are concerns that brewing resentment among the opposition, elements of the political elite and parts of the population could foster political instability further down the line.

Political analysts say the divisions are partly connected to the privatisation of government and party assets into the hands of Kagame and his inner circle.

Regional analysts say parts of the banking, tea plantation, coffee, tobacco and mineral exporting businesses are now in the hands of people close to Kagame and the RPF elite.

The Rwanda Development Board denied any government assets had been sold off to the RPF elite.

Meanwhile, Kagame's war on graft has seen former political associates locked up.

The arrest of two senior army officials in April, following a dramatic reshuffle of the military hierarchy, underscored the tensions and erosion of trust at the top. Analysts say the generals' detention -- one for abuse of office, the other for immoral conduct -- is part of a crackdown on critics of Kagame's centralisation of party financing and political power.

Diplomatic sources say the arrest of Congolese Tutsi rebel Laurent Nkunda has also fuelled tensions within the ruling elite. A UN panel of experts reported in 2008 that the RPF had supported Nkunda's rebel war in easten Congo.

However, Rwanda's seizure of Nkunda last year heralded a new era in relations between the tiny central African nation and its giant neighbour.
For years the two accused each other of backing the other's rebel factions. What happens to Nkunda could still influence the extent to which relations thaw.

Congo wants him extradited for war crimes and treason but analysts say Rwanda would be reluctant to let him go, fearful of what Nkunda might divulge about his relationship with Kagame's administration.

Rwandans will vote in an August 9 presidential poll which Kagame is widely tipped to win.

Security has been tightened in Kigali in the last four months with armed patrols in the city at night. Diplomats forecast a largely peaceful ballot which is unlikey to affect Rwanda's investment climate.

But there have been grenade attacks across the country. One person was killed and dozens wounded in Kigali in May in the latest of a series of mysterious attacks.

Kagame's administration has linked them to a former army chief in exile who has denied any involvement. More attacks risk tarnishing Rwanda's stable and secure image and deterring tourists.

At the heart of Central Africa, Rwanda depends on the stability of its neighbours for the safe passage of its goods along east Africa's main trunk routes.

All of its petrol, diesel and heavy oil, which fuels its electricity generators, must be transported by road from the coastal cities of Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Post-election violence in Kenya in 2008 blocked the region's main trade arteries for weeks. The turmoil sent food and fuel prices in Rwanda surging and inflation peaked around 23 percent in December 2008.

2008 Q1 dollar exports to Europe, Rwanda's largest market, dropped by one third against the previous quarter and 15 per cent versus the previous year.

Reuters

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