Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

Welcome to
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:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is the Rwandan leader a visionary statesman, or a blood-stained tyrant?

Please respect's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article -

By William Wallis from Financial Times

Paul KagamePaul Kagame, 53, has been president of Rwanda for the past decade and vice-president – and de facto leader – for seven years before that. But for all the power and years of command he appears as lean and austere as he was as the 36-year-old guerrilla commander of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel army that fought an end to the 20th century’s swiftest act of mass murder – the killing between April and July 1994 of some 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathisers.
In the years since, we have met a number of times but this is our first lunch: the president is visiting London and suggests meeting at the Wyndham Grand in Chelsea Harbour, an expensive but unremarkable hotel not known for its restaurant. Our meal is to be prepared by a chef travelling with the presidential party. Kagame’s aides assure me in advance that this is not out of fear of being poisoned. Rather, they explain, it is for organisational reasons – feeding the entourage and past experience with the vagaries of hotel catering – and I half-believe them. Kagame’s administration, which has approached development with the same single-mindedness as it approached guerrilla warfare, is nothing if not well-organised.
The country that Kagame took over had collapsed, its institutions and people abandoned or destroyed during the genocide. In the ensuing years his government has overseen the return of millions of Rwandans displaced by conflict; hundreds of thousands of genocide crimes have been tried by village committees (see box below).
And, with the help of international aid, on which the government still depends for nearly 50 per cent of its budget, Rwanda has seen some of the highest growth rates in Africa. Yet no African leader divides opinion as sharply as Kagame does or inspires such contrasting caricatures: on the one hand, the visionary statesman, forging prosperity out of ruin and courageously tackling continental taboos; on the other, the blood-stained tyrant. He is accused of war crimes and human rights abuses at least as often as he is celebrated with honorary doctorates and global leadership awards.
The polemics are fuelled by Kagame’s mixed record. Unlike many of his African peers, he has relentlessly pursued results in his bid to transform an inward-looking mountain nation into a regional centre for services, agro-processing, tourism and transport. But he has also been given extraordinary licence to repress dissent, and the prosperity of elites in Kigali derives at least partly from the plunder of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo during Rwanda’s serial invasions of its neighbour.
According to United Nations reports, tens of thousands of Rwandans and Congolese died at the hands of Kagame’s army as he established authority and secured his country’s borders in the face of continuing threats to surviving Tutsis. Political opponents and journalists still end up in exile, jail or, in some cases, six foot under.
Yet Kagame can count among his international supporters the likes of Tony Blair, Rick Warren, the evangelical US pastor, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks among other influential figures in the west. Members of his fan club tend to overlook the more troubling aspects of his rule or support the notion that he has done what was necessary to restore security and lay the foundations for development.
In the anonymous, faintly ascetic meeting room at the Wyndham Grand, where we are about to be served carrot and tomato soup, Kagame says, “I have no regrets about being who I am, and being what I am in my country for my people. No regrets at all.” The round table where we are to eat, bedecked with white cloth and silver cutlery, is something of an oasis in a desert of empty carpet.
The wider global setting is more compelling: Kagame, though relaxed, is not a man for small talk and our conversation moves quickly to the conflict in Ivory Coast, revolutions sweeping the Arab world and the ramifications of both for sub-Saharan Africa. “These are not problems that just emerged yesterday: they are problems which people were not paying attention to because it suited their own interests not to,” he says of the corruption, social injustice and repression that fuelled the Arab uprisings.
Such a statement might raise an eyebrow among his detractors, coming as it does from a head of state who has yet to allow a strong opponent to rival him, and who in 2001 locked up his predecessor Pasteur Bizimungu, when he formed an opposition party. But the attention Kagame has focused on developing Rwanda’s essentially peasant economy has fostered the shoots of a remarkable recovery for anyone bothered to observe it closely. Few of Kagame’s detractors do, something he finds infuriating.
Fiercely defensive of the moral high ground, he is not shy of playing on western guilt at having failed Rwanda in its hour of need. “I don’t think anybody out there in the media, UN, human rights organisations, has any moral right whatsoever to level any accusations against me or against Rwanda. Because, when it came to the problems facing Rwanda, and the Congo, they were all useless,” he says, quietly emptying his soup bowl.
Weary of the problems associated with being a recipient of international aid – from the patronising, bullying tactics of donor nations to the often fickle nature of their policies in Africa – Kagame has developed an acute sensitivity to western mendacity and double standards. He also has a strong sense of irony. So it is with a wry laugh that he suggests that the historic focus of western governments on stability over freedom and good governance in the Arab world has had its comeuppance. “They have to face the reality now I think. They just can’t ignore it ... ”
If there is a broader lesson from the Arab Spring for countries south of the Sahara, he continues, it is in what happens to those in office who do not pay attention to the interests of their people. “You can be up there, talked about, appreciated all over the world, with people singing a lot of songs about you. But if you don’t measure up and you are not really connected with your people ... it will explode in your face, no question about it.”
Next on the menu chosen for us by his chef is steak, with beans, green peppers, rice and potatoes. It looks fortifying, so I introduce an awkward comparison. Bahrain, ruled by a Sunni minority distrustful of a majority Shia population now in open revolt, could, I suggest, be compared to Rwanda, with its administration dominated by a minority – ethnic Tutsis, who make up around 14 per cent of the population and were victims of the 1994 genocide. Not unlike Bahrain’s ruling elite, Rwanda’s fears real democracy would lead to majority rule and that this would invite chaos given the history of extremism among majority Hutus.
Kagame reacts sharply to the comparison. For one, he is not a monarch, he says, like King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. But, I murmur, you were elected by a remarkable 93 per cent of votes only last year, facing no real opposition.
“In Rwanda there is a constitution. There are term limits; there is a parliament, there are elections. Somebody who makes that comparison, I will just say is ignorant,” he insists, defending the near unanimous result of last year’s polls as a vote for stability in the context of the country’s peculiarly bloody history.
Yet international concern is, if anything, mounting over whether the peace and economic growth Kagame has established is sustainable alongside a political system that remains rigidly controlled.
He continues with a tactic often deployed by African heads of state but which in this instance seems somewhat disingenuous: to harp on the exaggerated expectations made of developing nations by the west and the west’s failure often to meet the same exacting standards. “Why isn’t the majority in the developed world interpreted on the basis of race or colour or tribes? Why? You want to tell me that, in the United States, Barack Obama comes from which majority?” he asks.
We reach a point of agreement when we decide that had Rwanda been an oil-rich state like Libya it is unlikely that UN peacekeepers would have backed off when mass murder started as they did in 1994. We also agree that in the case of Ivory Coast, the elections that sparked this year’s conflict were premature, symptomatic of the pressure applied on African nations to import political systems that are not always suited to local circumstance.
“Elections must be held. But when? You don’t carry out elections anyhow, or under any conditions,” he says, pointing to the fact that Ivory Coast was divided when the vote took place under UN supervision in November, with rebels in control of the north, and a government army in the south. “It’s as if elections or political processes were things worked out in a factory ... They can’t be made in the UK; they can’t be made in America. No. If you force it, you end up with a problem.”
The waiters remove our empty plates, and replace them with bowls of fruit salad with oranges, pineapples and blackberries. We find another point of agreement: had we been almost anywhere in Africa, the fruit would have tasted a great deal sweeter. “Pineapples are very bland here,” says Kagame. “And the bananas are different.”
As coffee is served, I ask Kagame a question that intrigues me. He has skilfully courted the evangelical Christian community in the US, a factor that I am told helped swing the Bush administration to his side, after a frosty start. But is he himself a believer? “Yes and no,” he says. “I encourage believers to believe.”
The complicity of members of the Catholic church in the Rwandan genocide partly inform this doubt. There were priests among the killers. “I’ve seen religions make blunders. Let’s look at what the Catholics did in Rwanda, which still disturbs me,” he says. “You see the Catholics apologising for child abuse by priests and bishops, and the Pope has gone out of the way to apologise to the Americans. Then he goes to Australia and does the same. But they will never apologise for their role in the Rwandan genocide.”
For all the blame he heaps on the outside world for turmoil past, he tailors much of his rhetoric these days to chime with the times. He is acutely conscious, for example, that Africa will only catch up if Africans themselves live up to the task. He singles out the leaderships in Ethiopia, Gabon and Burkina Faso as like-minded. “People will patronise us but at the end of the day we have to remember it’s our problem,” he says. “Africa should not just wait to be exploited or influenced. No. We should be part of the conversation. We should raise ourselves to a level where there are certain terms we dictate in the conversation because we have a lot to offer.”
It is partly Rwanda’s meagre resources, he continues, that has made it so imperative that it behaves differently, that it roots out petty corruption and improves the business climate if it is to compete. And it has, becoming one of the world’s fastest reformers, rising to 66th out of 178 countries in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings. “We are landlocked, a very small country, in the middle somewhere. Some of our neighbours, they are richer than us, and they tend to attract people more than we do. So we have to strategically create uniqueness about us.”
Unique too, is the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, which grew out of the rebel movement he led to power from exile in neighbouring Uganda. It is one of the best endowed political movements in the world. Funds it controls own large stakes in key sectors of the Rwandan economy, including telecoms, banking, real estate and energy, as well as investments abroad that were launched when his movement was still in the bush. Kagame puts the RPF’s wealth at several hundred million dollars. “We don’t go out begging. For example, we didn’t have any money from Gaddafi for our elections ... And the reason is really we want to maintain our independence all the time in everything we do.”
That is one of the paradoxes about Rwanda. The country has depended on foreign donors to rebuild in the wake of 1994. Yet it is focused, as much as any aid-dependent African country, on becoming self-reliant. And its leader, despite the debt he owes to many foreign allies, never appears anything but independent-minded. “We’ve dealt with our problems very unconventionally and because we’ve had to do that,” he says – adding that this has often infuriated foreign partners who would like everything done their way – “it’s a struggle all the time.”
William Wallis is the FT’s Africa editor
Wyndham Grand
Chelsea Harbour, London SW10
Menu prepared by Paul Kagame’s chef
Tomato and carrot soup x 2
Steak x 2
Mixed vegetables
Sparkling water
Bread rolls
Total (including service) £83
Jason Stearns on transitional justice in Rwanda
‘Killers now live side-by-side with families of their victims’
Rwanda has long stood out as an extreme case in the fractious debate enveloping post-conflict justice. What do you do in a country with 800,000 victims and probably around 200,000 culprits?
President Paul Kagame has approached this challenge with hard-nosed pragmatism. The new regime obviously couldn’t prosecute all the killers, nor could they let them go. The court system was in a shambles; most lawyers and judges were dead, in exile or tainted by the old regime. For years the new government run by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) arrested many but prosecuted few. By 1999, 120,000 people were jailed under hellish conditions. It was estimated that the courts would take more than a century to clear the backlog.
In 2001 the government launched a new approach, setting up 11,000 courts around the country, drawing on a traditional form of justice called gacaca. This process is now coming to an end. More than 400,000 people – more than 10 per cent of the country’s adult Hutu population – have stood trial. Most of those convicted have been given reduced sentences or been sent home, having served time in pre-trial detention.
This solution, even according to Kagame, is far from perfect. Killers now live side-by-side with families of their victims, and there are stories of villagers abusing the gacaca system to settle scores. This is the post-genocide landscape in Rwanda, a cobbled-together compromise, a fractured society held together by tight government control. But there is a far more troubling problem with this approach to justice: It has been almost entirely one-sided. The gacaca courts, the United Nations tribunal and Rwandan national courts have not tried any crimes committed by the RPF government. The government has insisted the few crimes committed by the RPF have been tried in military courts. In any case, they argue, any crimes were an utterly different nature and order of magnitude.
This is not a matter of moral equivalence – the government was not guilty of atrocities on the same scale as its predecessor. But there is more evidence to suggest that RPF abuses were not isolated acts of revenge. A UN report into RPF killings in 1994 has resurfaced, suggesting there could have been as many as 40,000 killings by the new government in that year alone. Only 32 RPF soldiers – two of them officers – have been prosecuted for 1994 crimes.
Jason Stearns is author of ‘Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: the Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa’ (PublicAffairs)
Enhanced by Zemanta


Anonymous said...

Yesterdaу, while I was at work, my siѕter stole my iРad and teѕted to ѕee if
it can surνive а 30 foot dгοp,
just so shе can be а уoutubе senѕation.

Mу apрle ipad is noω ԁеѕtrоyed and she has 83
viеws. I κnow this іs totally off topic but ӏ had to sharе іt with sοmeone!

Also vіsit mу wеbsite irving taxi service

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our argument made at this time.

Also visit my page euless taxi

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the marvelous posting! I genuinelу enjoyed rеaԁіng it, уou might be a grеаt аuthor.
I will еnѕure that ӏ bookmark уour blog аnd will often cοmе bacκ in the
futuгe. I wаnt to encourаge уou continue your grеat job, have а nicе evenіng!

Here is my wеb рage - how to flip cars for profit

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Amazing aгticlе dude! Thanκ you so much, Howeνeг I am exреrіencing issues ωіth your RЅS.
Ι don't know the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody having identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

Here is my site - Dfw seo

Anonymous said...

Thаnk you for the good writeup. ӏt in reality used
to be a leisure account it. Glance advanced
to morе deliveгed agreeable from you!
Hoωеver, hoω could we keep іn touch?

Check out mу homepage; rent a home in plano

Anonymous said...

It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've rеaԁ thiѕ pοѕt and
if Ι could I desiге to suggеst you few intereѕting things or adviсe.
Perhaps you can write neхt articles referrіng to this article.

I want tο read more things about it!

Also visіt my ωebsite houston virtual assistants

Anonymous said...

I'm extremely pleased to discover this page. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new things on your site.

Take a look at my weblog ... how to buy a used car from a dealer

Anonymous said...

whοah this weblog іs fantastiс i love reаding
уour ρoѕts. Staу up the gгeat ωork!
You know, manу persοns are looking aгound
for this іnfοrmation, you can help them gгeatly.

Feel free to ѵіsit my web site: TENS units

Anonymous said...

It's really a cool and helpful piece of info. I'm glad
that you shared thіs useful infοгmаtion ωith us.
Plеaѕe keep us informed like this. Thank you for

Feel freе to surf to my blοg post; Tens Machines

Anonymous said...

We аre a grouρ of volunteers and opening a new scheme іn
our community. Your wеbѕite offered us with valuable
info to wогk οn. You have dοne an imρressіve job and
οur entiгe сommunitу will be grateful to yοu.

Loοk іntο mу weblog ::
best website for chocolates

Anonymous said...

Expression for physical exertions that actually function,
and lower berth true statement about abs practise is
called double leg raises. Doing a the true about abs
pays you the six-pack, the abdominal external oblique musculuss
are located on your faces and the transversal muscular tissue supports your vertebral
column. Publish downwards everything you had in a splendid drunkenness because
it has no kilogram calories and furthers fat deprivation.

Begin by writing your are not breathing on any of your ivory anatomical structure.

Feel free to surf to my weblog: the original source

Anonymous said...

What you said was actually very logical. But, consider this, what if you composed
a catchier post title? I am not suggesting your
content isn't solid., however suppose you added a headline that makes people want more? I mean "Is the Rwandan leader a visionary statesman, or a blood-stained tyrant?" is kinda plain. You should peek at Yahoo's front page and
note how they create article headlines to grab viewers to open the links.

You might add a video or a picture or two to
grab people excited about what you've got to say. Just my opinion, it might bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

my web page - Louis Vuitton Outlet

Anonymous said...

Hello, I would like to subscribe for this web
site to get most up-to-date updates, so where can i do
it please help.

Look at my blog post: Nike Free ()

Anonymous said...

May I just say what a comfort to discover a person that actually knows what
they're discussing online. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you aren't more popular given that you most certainly have the gift.

Feel free to surf to my blog Michael Kors

Anonymous said...

Hey there I am so grateful I found your web site, I really found you by
accident, while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say cheers for a
incredible post and a all round interesting blog (I
also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but
I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when
I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do
keep up the excellent b.

Here is my website :: Tory Burch Outlet

oakleyses said...

gucci handbags, polo ralph lauren, air max pas cher, nike shoes, prada handbags, burberry outlet online, coach outlet, louis vuitton outlet, tory burch outlet, louboutin shoes, nike free, nike air max, nike air max, polo ralph lauren outlet, ray ban outlet, longchamp handbags, louis vuitton handbags, true religion outlet, red bottom shoes, louis vuitton outlet, prada outlet, longchamp outlet online, longchamp outlet, coach purses, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, coach outlet, michael kors outlet online, true religion, jordan shoes, nike air max, louis vuitton, coach outlet store online, kate spade outlet online, michael kors outlet online, christian louboutin outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, chanel handbags, burberry outlet online, true religion outlet, tiffany jewelry, kate spade handbags, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet store, christian louboutin shoes

oakleyses said...

air jordan, louis vuitton pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, ralph lauren, longchamp, north face, sac louis vuitton, north face pas cher, mulberry, nike roshe, longchamp, roshe run, vans pas cher, lululemon, michael kors uk, burberry pas cher, timberland, mac cosmetics, louis vuitton, nike air force, hollister, oakley pas cher, guess pas cher, hollister, longchamp pas cher, hollister, nike free pas cher, chaussure louboutin, nike free, air max, nike trainers, lacoste pas cher, sac michael kors, hermes pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, louis vuitton uk, scarpe hogan, new balance pas cher, nike roshe run, tn pas cher, ray ban uk, nike huarache, sac vanessa bruno, barbour, converse pas cher, ray ban pas cher, nike air max, abercrombie and fitch, vans outlet, michael kors canada

oakleyses said...

uggs on sale, babyliss pro, chi flat iron, jimmy choo shoes, canada goose uk, nfl jerseys, celine handbags, asics shoes, p90x workout, moncler, mcm handbags, mont blanc pens, insanity workout, north face outlet, canada goose pas cher, ghd, moncler outlet, lululemon outlet, valentino shoes, soccer jerseys, herve leger, giuseppe zanotti, wedding dresses, instyler ionic styler, soccer shoes, birkin bag, ugg outlet, ugg boots, baseball bats, north face jackets, iphone 6 case, bottega veneta, marc jacobs outlet, moncler, moncler, rolex watches, new balance outlet, uggs outlet, reebok shoes, ugg, nike air max, beats headphones, canada goose outlet, canada goose, abercrombie and fitch, ugg soldes, canada goose outlet, canada goose outlet, ferragamo shoes, hollister clothing

Yellow Cab Dfw said...

Yellow Cab DFW service is the #1 taxicab service in the Irving area. We are an approved cab company to pick-up and drop-off customers anywhere in the DFW International Airport as well as around the city. We are here to provide all your traveling necessities We provide quality, and comfortable services to any destination in the Dallas – Ft. Worth – Irving area. Call @ 972-400-6556
Yellow Cab Dfw
Yellow Cab Dfw

Yellow Cab Dallas said...

Yellow Cab Dallas promise to put our up most effort to give our customer the best care and service in time of their needs. In addition making the ride safe we insure a wide selection of quality vehicles for business and personal cab service. GIVE US A CALL 24 HOURS (972)-369-3334
Check our website for more details:
Yellow Cab Dallas

Irving Taxi Service said...

Irving Taxi Service is here to your rescue! just call @(972) 369-3128. Irving Taxi Service would get you to your desired destination in time. It’s an affordable and comfortable way of travelling in our busy world where every second counts.
Irving Taxi Service