From the Ethiopian ReviewLast week, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was reelected with 93% of the vote. Actually it cannot be called election. Following in the foot steps of Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi, what Kagame and gang conducted was a fake election where the winner was determined in advance. The Woyanne cancer is spreading to other African countries.
The following is an interview with Frans Makken, ambassador of the Netherlands in Rwanda.
Do you share the concerns expressed last weekend by the White House? About the lack of democracy in Rwanda?
“The presidential election in Rwanda has been successful in general and the vast majority of registered Rwandan voters could vote without any noticeable incidents. Nevertheless, it is understandable that the U.S. administration has made some critical remarks over the context in which this election took place.”
“A number of violent incidents marred the period preceding the election. Furthermore, it is worrying that many independent media were closed during that same period. Finally, no party outside the current coalition government was been able to present a candidate.”
Will you address these issues with the Rwandan government?
“The Netherlands but also other donor countries do not want to interfere in the procedures of Rwanda concerning the merits of legal and administrative reasons for their exclusion. However, we can see that the Rwandan authorities have not given the impression of having made the slightest effort in favour of the participation of opposition parties within the law.”
“While the election victory of incumbent President Paul Kagame in all likelihood reflects the will of the people of Rwanda, the Netherlands intend, in concert with other donor countries, to ask the Rwandan government for explanations about the irregularities found.”
Just after the election, there was an attack in Kigali. Are you afraid there might be more troubles?
“This attack is of course very disturbing, especially since it means that despite the peaceful conduct of the election the series of incidents has not stopped. The attack has not been claimed, but the government suspects that there is a link with the military who took refuge in South Africa.”
Critics say journalists and opposition members are victims of bullying. Do you agree with them?
“Even before the presidential election, on July 30, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen expressed in a letter to the Parliament in The Hague, about his concerns over the developments in the field of freedom of expression and about the violent incidents that took place before the election. Although it is unknown who precisely is responsible for each one of these incidents, they have caused confusion and created a climate of violence and intimidation.”
“He also wrote: “It is obvious that the 1994 genocide has heavily marked the political landscape in Rwanda and led the Rwandan government’s determination to restrain by law that groups of people are drawn against each other and extremist ideologies propagated. However, I agree with you that such legislation can serve as a blank cheque to silence the opposition and public debate.”
Is the Dutch aid to Rwanda of 45 million euros per year in danger?
“The Dutch government must decide this fall whether general budget support to Rwanda will be resumed. It goes without saying that the conduct of the presidential election and the human rights situation in Rwanda will be taken into consideration. Other relationships of development cooperation with Rwanda are at present no subject for debate. Obviously, it is possible that a new Dutch government implement changes in their policy on development aid in general and for Rwanda in particular.